Once a Cop: My Journey from former Crack Dealer to the Highest Ranks of the NYPD

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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.

Corey Pegues has lived on both sides of the law. At the height of the 1980s crack epidemic, he was a teenager hugging the street corner, selling dope for the notorious Supreme Team gang and watching drugs decimate his stable, working-class neighborhood almost overnight. After a botched murder attempt on a rival gang member, Corey, the only member of his family to graduate from high school, knew he had to get out. Barely eighteen, 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, the police academy was a breeze.

In this riveting memoir, Corey takes us into his rise from the rough streets of Queens through the ranks of the NYPD, living and working in the nation’s most violent neighborhoods. What is daily life truly like for urban youth in America? What is the one problem endemic in law enforcement that’s even more dangerous than rampant racism? There aren’t many people who understand both sides of the story the way Corey does.

As war rages throughout our nation between police and communities of color, Pegues tears down the blue wall to discuss the discriminatory practices he faced within the NYPD and talks candidly about the distrust between law enforcement and the people. 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 today.