New Jack City meets Serpico in this provocative memoir of a crack dealer-turned-decorated NYPD officer - a timely reflection on the complex relationship between the police and the communities they are meant to protect.
"A rollicking, no-holds-barred account of life on the streets, seen from both sides." (Booklist)
During the 1980s, crack cocaine devastated many of America's inner-city communities. Drug dealers seized neighborhoods, terrorizing inhabitants with brutal violence. Aunts and uncles, next-door neighbors, and best friends became addicts. No longer were playgrounds and parks a safe haven for kids; the sound of bouncing basketballs by day was replaced by the pop of gunshots by night. Those who lived through the nightmare tell unimaginable stories of that era. Once a Cop is one of the most extraordinary.
Raised in Queens, New York, as a teen, Corey Pegues watched drugs uproot his stable, working-class neighborhood almost overnight. When times got tough, he had a choice: continue to watch his family struggle to buy food, to pay bills; or sell dope. He chose the latter, eventually becoming part of the notorious Supreme Team street gang. After a botched murder attempt on a rival gang member, Corey knew he had to get out. Barely 18, with two kids by two different women, Corey left under cover of night to enlist in the US Army. After several years in the military, he set his sights on becoming a New York City cop and breezed through the police academy.
In this provocative memoir, Corey Pegues tells how a onetime crack dealer became one the highest ranking members of the largest police force in the country, living and working in the nation's most violent neighborhoods. His meteoric rise from patrol officer to deputy inspector covers the administrations of former New York City mayors Rudy Giulliani and Michael Bloomberg, and coincides with the early tenures of famed police commissioners Ray Kelly and William "Bill" Bratton. Corey grants listeners full access to the manner in which some of the NYPD's most controversial policies were implemented; and an insider's take on the shootings of Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, the assault on Abner Louima, and other tragedies that stained the department.
As tensions continue to mount between police and communities of color, Corey tears down the blue wall to discuss the discriminatory practices he faced within the NYPD and talks candidly about the distrust that exists between law enforcement and the citizens they are sworn to protect. Corey contends that his life on the streets informed his approach to police work, and shows how it made him a more conscientious and compassionate officer. There aren't many people who understand both sides of the story. Corey doesn't hate the police. He loves the badge. And he believes it's his duty to challenge the culture of racism, silence, and arrogance in the NYPD and police departments across the country.
This book broadened my perspective and deepened my understanding. I recommended it to anyone looking to make greater sense of police interactions with the black community and the related national headlines. I recommend it particularly for people like me who have no firsthand experience of such things.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
It's great to hear this kind of story from beginning to end. It has every facet of the progression of inner city life. Corey kept it real, 100% of the time. I will probably start this audio book over as soon as I'm finished with it. Salute to Corey.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
I heard about this book from a podcast interview on the "Combat Jack Show". Great read, a must read!!
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
Pros: The story line and the underlying issues addressed are things discussed in some households more than others. It's admirable why he turned his life around and I applaud his tenacity.
Cons: as much as I usually love the author of the book to read it because they know where the emotional emphasis should be placed, this is not the case here. This was sort of painful to listen to. He was very monotone and I found myself having to replay chapters because my attention would wander off.
Thank you for your honesty and candor.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful
In a time of increased concern over unprofessional police work I wanted to gain better insight into law enforcement in America today. Mr. Pegues' book has done that for me in ways I suspected but never could validate before. I thank him for his service and sincerely hope his story helps to deliver the validation he deserves.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Great dropping of knowledge on how office politics can shape entire communities for the good or the bad
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
I purchased this book after seeing the author on "The Daily Show". I didn't notice that the book was narrated by the author, something that I've found rarely works out well. Once again, a possibly compelling and interesting account is ruined by amateurish narration. Corey Pegues is so bad that I kept falling asleep! The book is written in a very simple way but that's okay because all Pegues is doing is telling his life story. However the middle school writing method combined with very inexperienced reading makes for a difficult listen. Especially for hardcore listeners like me - I have bought almost 4,000 audiobooks from Audible.com alone since 2007. I have become accustomed to outstanding male narrators like Simon Vance, Simon Prebble, Len Cariou, Roy Dotrice, Dick Hill and Will Patton. Since this book's author is black, the perfect choice to narrate would have been an Audible favorite, award-winning narrator Dion Graham. Other masterful black narrators include Mirron Willis, Joe Morton, Peter Jay Fernandez, James Earl Jones and Don Cheadle.
I get wanting to be a "Jack of All Trades". After all, Pegues DOES cover the gamut from drug dealer to gang member to top cop. And there's no shame in stretching one's skill set to include author. However, Pegues just went too far in assuming that he could handle what has now become a field which requires a bit more experience than reading your kid a bed time story. The demographic for this kind of book is likely to be an adult with average to above average comprehension skills. Why wouldn't you choose the most experienced and competent person to narrator your life story? It's as if Dion Graham put on a Kevlar vest and strapped on a 9mm, then called himself a "top cop" - just because he has been voice of the highly successful long-running true crime series "First 48". The series follows the investigations of homicide detectives in cities around the country. Is that enough to qualify a narrator to do Corey Pegues' job? I don't think so! Play your position, Mr. Top Cop!
While I could only take about two hours of this book because the narrator made my eyelashes hurt, I do question how a person who lived a highly at-risk criminal life passed the intensive background checks required to become a police officer. I applied to be a 911 dispatcher for a large metro Atlanta police department but I was afraid I wouldn't make it. Age 51 years at the time, I had never done anything more "criminal" in my lifetime than get a couple of speeding tickets! I was given a polygraph test and a psychological evaluation. The police or sheriff department in every jurisdiction that I ever lived in was contacted about me - and I had lived all over the country by the time I applied. One of my children, who is now a veteran police officer was put through even more intense scrutiny before being hired. Sooooooo, I don't know if I fully buy into Pegues' claim of such a colorful and disparate life. However, I can't really speak on that subject since I couldn't finish this book as the NARRATION was more troublesome than the veracity of the subject matter. A good story is a good story to me - even if it's slightly embellished for literary effect.
I just hope that if another audiobook publisher decides to release this book, it will not let this author narrate. . I'd like to hear Pegues' story - just not read by HIM! The book should be called "Once a Cop: The Street, the Law, Two Worlds, One Man Trying To Do Way Too Much (And Failing)". 😀
12 of 23 people found this review helpful
The best book I have read in years! I pray things work out in law suit.
Absolutely EXCELLENT story! Keep your head up black man! Prayers up for you and your family... I hope you clean house and make them ALL pay!
Every failure this loser experienced in life was always somebody else's fault. Don't waste your time with this crap-Sergeant Michael Kelly NYPD (Ret)
1 of 2 people found this review helpful