We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops, and Corruption

February 23, 2021
We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops, and Corruption

The astonishing true story of “one of the most startling policecorruption scandals in a generation” (The New York Times), from thePulitzer Prize–nominated reporter who exposed a gang of criminalcops and their yearslong plunder of an American city“A work of journalism that not only chronicles the rise and fallof a corrupt police unit but can stand as the inevitable coda tothe half-century of disaster that is the American drug war.”—DavidSimon, author of Homicide, co-author of The Corner, and creator ofThe WireBaltimore, 2015. Riots are erupting across the city as citizensdemand justice for Freddie Gray, a twenty-five-year-old Black manwho has died under suspicious circumstances while in policecustody. Drug and violent crime are surging, and Baltimore willreach its highest murder count in more than two decades: 342homicides in a single year, in a city of just 600,000 people.Facing pressure from the mayor’s office—as well as a federalinvestigation of the department over Gray’s death—Baltimore policecommanders turn to a rank-and-file hero, Sergeant Wayne Jenkins,and his elite plainclothes unit, the Gun Trace Task Force, to helpget guns and drugs off the street.But behind these new efforts, a criminal conspiracy ofunprecedented scale was unfolding within the police department.Entrusted with fixing the city’s drug and gun crisis, Jenkins choseto exploit it instead. With other members of the empowered GunTrace Task Force, Jenkins stole from Baltimore’s citizens—skimmingfrom drug busts, pocketing thousands in cash found in privatehomes, and planting fake evidence to throw Internal Affairs offtheir scent. Their brazen crime spree would go unchecked for years.The result was countless wrongful convictions, the death of aninnocent civilian, and the mysterious death of one cop who was shotin the head, killed just a day before he was scheduled to testifyagainst the unit.In this urgent book, award-winning investigative journalistJustin Fenton distills hundreds of interviews, thousands of courtdocuments, and countless hours of video footage to present thedefinitive account of the entire scandal. The result is anastounding, riveting feat of reportage about a rogue police unit,the city they held hostage, and the ongoing struggle betweenAmerican law enforcement and the communities they are charged toserve.