ONCE A COP by Corey Pegues


The Street, the Law, Two Worlds, One Man
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A Queens native recounts his evolution from drug dealer to decorated veteran police officer.

Though he was raised to be a law-abiding, productive member of society, the streets had a different plan for former NYPD deputy inspector Pegues. He intensively details his childhood as a brother to four older sisters and the son of a functioning alcoholic father within a family barely subsisting on welfare. Desperate for easy money, in the early 1980s, when he was 13, the author began selling drugs. With his likable, smooth-talking demeanor, his illicit deals became more lucrative as the caliber of drugs escalated—but so did the violence. When events reached deadly proportions, even then, Pegues believed “it’s never too late to turn your life around” and his own “exit plan” included enlisting in the Army after high school graduation. His memoir’s subsequent sections detail the author’s time as a member of the NYPD, where diligent police work was often met with disillusionment and criticism within the tacitly segregated “lily white” precinct to which he was assigned. Complementing the brash experiences Pegues illustrates as both a drug dealer and a civil servant, his memoir is ornamented with raw street vernacular, lending it authenticity. As it wraps up, however, his empowering story darkens and discourages with discontent. Though the author retired in 2013 after an eventful and ambitious, rank-climbing 21-year career, his final chapters are world-weary and indignant, as he accuses regional media and the police force at large of discrediting him and stripping his legacy of its honor. More distressing are his allegations about the questionable motivations of the 67th Precinct, the resurgence of broken windows policing, and the dismantling of the urban inner-city youth programs and anti-violence efforts he’d established. A multimillion-dollar lawsuit remains pending.

A gritty, straightforward memoir about corrective determination written from both sides of the law.

Pub Date: May 24th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-5011-1049-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2016


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