Power Trip

The corruption, violence, and petty cruelty on display left me with PTSD

I am frequently asked why I became a cop, but I never seem to have a satisfactory answer. I was an only child in a single-parent home and was relatively quiet and introverted growing up. I wasn’t following in anyone’s footsteps — there were no other cops in my family…


I spent 18 years as a police officer, and I know anti-bias training won’t be enough

When I watch the current wave of protests against police violence on TV, I can’t help but think back to the demonstrations of 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray. I was in Baltimore then, on the streets as an officer in the Baltimore Police Department. I witnessed firsthand the…


An ex-cop on what movies get wrong—really wrong — about real-life law enforcement

Years after becoming a cop, I rewatched a few of the old Dirty Harry films. I couldn’t help but notice the bad police work on display. There are easily half a dozen civil rights violations in every Dirty Harry sequel. …


A former Baltimore cop explains why police reforms aren’t to blame for the recent rise in crime

I first met Anthony Barksdale in the summer of 2007. My partner and I were sitting in our parked car in the driveway of Green Mount Cemetery, a high-crime area in the center of Baltimore. Most nights that summer were spent chasing off loiterers from vacant houses, breaking up dice…


As a former cop, I know why so many carry out their work with an “us versus them” mentality

In 2000, I was a rookie patrol cop in the Baltimore Police Department. Everything I’d learned from six months in the police academy and another month of field training was still fresh in my head. …

Larry Smith

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