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Maurice Hicks '97: From 'Living Under Siege' to an Arresting Career

Maurice Hicks ‘97 was the last person his family thought would pursue a career in law enforcement. Growing up in a rough neighborhood in Baltimore, he escaped the drugs, crime and violence that surrounded him by putting his nose inside a book.

“I grew up living under siege,” he explains of his upbringing, “but I was always a nerd. I had an insatiable appetite for learning. You could always find me with my head buried in the encyclopedia on the porch or in the library.”

Law enforcement beckons

Hicks came from a family of educators, and his thirst for knowledge made it seem natural that he should follow suit. However, his life took a different turn when he accompanied his cousin when he went to apply to become a police officer. Although Hicks had no interest in law enforcement, the recruiter urged him to take the test, too, since he was already there.

“I joined. He didn’t,” he says.

As a police officer, he found himself face-to-face with the crime and despair he had spent his younger years trying so hard to avoid.

The wisdom of a mentor

When Hicks was a rookie, he told his sergeant he wanted to become a detective. Expecting a relevant assignment, he was surprised to find himself assigned to foot patrol in the projects.

“My sergeant never told me why,” he says.

Hicks kept his nose down and worked his beat for six months before his sergeant asked him how it had been going.

“I told him I knew everyone [in the neighborhood],” he recalls. “He said that was why I put you there. There was a method to my sarge’s madness.”

His knack for getting to know members of the community—and caring about what happened to them—helped propel his career to the next level. Hicks recalls one encounter he had with a woman walking down the street with her head hanging low. He asked how she was doing, and she said someone had broken into her house and cleaned her completely out.

“They took everything,” he says. “The food out of her refrigerator, her Bible, the clothes off her clothesline, her laundry detergent, her children’s toys.”

She wasn’t expecting his help and told him that the police didn’t care about her and her family. He did, though. He took a detailed report and then set to work, going door to door looking for clues.

Before long, his efforts paid off, and he was able to return the stolen items to their rightful owner. He received a commendation from the police commissioner for his efforts, and then his investigative career began to take off.

On the case

As the years passed, Hicks’s responsibilities grew. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Criminology from UMGC while working full-time for the police department. He loved learning from criminal justice practitioners, and he found that his studies directly applied to his real-world police work.

In addition to tackling higher education, Hicks also took on more challenging roles in law enforcement. He went from patrol officer, patrol sergeant and patrol commander to detective, detective sergeant and detective lieutenant. Along the way, he worked at various detective units, including street narcotics, major narcotics, intelligence, robbery and homicide.

“When I was a patrol officer, I met a young drug dealer who was an aspiring drug kingpin,” explains Hicks. “He became a kingpin who was controlling the area I was patrolling and getting away with shootings and murders.”

Their paths crossed again when he served for three years as lead investigator of the FBI Safe Streets Homicide Task Force.

“I went from street to major narcotics, then to homicide and then to the FBI investigating this kingpin who had evaded charges,” he says. “This was my mission for 10 years.”

The twists and turns of this investigation inspired Hicks to engage in a new pursuit: writing.

Looking for trouble 

In 2023, Hicks published Looking for Troublea book about his 20-year career in law enforcement.

“This book is a memoir about my life growing up in Baltimore as a nerd and then going into narcotics,” he says.

In it, he chronicles his experiences from his first days on patrol to his undercover work with drug dealers and murderers and everything in between.

A creative future

While Hicks retired from law enforcement after 20 years, he has continued his investigative work as a private detective in Nevada and Maryland for the last 15 years. He has also worked as an adjunct professor at UMGC for more than two decades, teaching criminal investigation and other police and security-related courses.

However, he makes plenty of time for his creative passions. He’s currently working on a third book, and he hopes to write a screen play to turn his memoir into a movie. He has been trying his hand at acting, too, taking classes in Las Vegas and even starring in a commercial.

Whatever the future holds, writing will be a big part of it. “I love writing. It’s my greatest passion.”

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