We Don't Need No Stinking Ratings!
Like millions who of current or former law enforcement officers, I was inspired as a child by the TV portrayal of cops. As a kid of the late '60s and '70s, I still smile when I hear "One Adam-12, a 211 in progress, One Adam-12, handle Code 3!"
Adam-12 wasn't the only show. There were Kojak, Hawaii Five-O, Cagney & Lacey, Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue, Boston Blue, Homicide: Life on the Street, Bosch, and Cops. For a laugh or three, there were Police Squad, Reno 911, and Barney Miller. (Every station has a Harris, a Wojo, and especially a Fish!)
Now CBS, the provider of classic police dramas such as Brooklyn South, The Blue Knight, Flashpoint, and multiple CSI series, has an idea for a new police "themed" series.
Noah Wyle has been cast in a lead role in the CBS drama pilot "Red Line," Variety has learned.
In the pilot, after a white cop in Chicago mistakenly shoots and kills a black doctor, the show follows three different families that all have connections to the case as the story is told from each perspective.
Wyle will play Daniel Calder, described as a dedicated high school teacher mourning the loss of his innocent African-American husband [sic] who was shot and killed by a white police officer. Daniel is now a single parent to his adopted daughter, Jira[.]
Well, give them credit: they didn't call it reality TV or say it was "ripped from the headlines!"
Hollywood has a habit of grabbing a headline, trying to make a movie or show with it, and having it collapse, again and again (Designated Survivor, Madam Secretary) – or taking a great series, injecting it with political correctness, and destroying it (Homeland).
Pushing the theme that every black man out there is but one traffic stop from being murdered by an overzealous cop, CBS defines any semblance of realism (hell, sounds more and more as though it will be a perfect reality TV series) as "reality." Unfortunately, the narrative that cops shoot only innocent black men is, to say the least, unhinged from the facts.
The United States has around 900,000 law enforcement officers working at this time. In an average year, police interact with the public approximately 60 million times (traffic stops, on-view investigations, service of a warrant, arrest, etc.). Of the people pulled over in a traffic stop, about 1% have some type of force used against them (physical, intermediate [e.g., baton, spray, Taser], or deadly force). Rough numbers: In 600,000 annual interactions with the public, (e.g., traffic stops, on-street interviews, etc.) nationwide, force is used. Now let's look at this a bit more closely.
Since Michael Brown and Ferguson, the Washington Post has been tracking police shootings all over the United States. In 2016, police shot and killed a total of 963 persons. In a country of 330 million, in 50 states, with almost a million cops, 963 persons were shot and killed by police – in self-initiated investigations, traffic stops, warrants, calls for service, etc. And the numbers, by race:
To give this some context, in 2016, Chicago had 762 murders in a city of 2.7 million. Of those 762, 626 (82%) were black. Before someone asks, police in Chicago shot 25 people in that year, of which 11 were killed. To look somewhere else, L.A. County had 662 murders in 2016, with a population of 10 million. Houston had 302 murders in 2016, with a population of 2.1 million.
What is the point of the story, Hollywood? Your premise is as screwed up as a football bat. In the real world, the doctor was most likely shot by another black male for his wallet. But that doesn't make good TV to your "way of thinking."
I find it curious that a business that reportedly wants to sell a product, such as movies and television shows, will insult its customers as much as it can. The American public does not have a good opinion of the entrainment industry in general, but it does have a high regard for law enforcement officers (as well as EMT, firefighters, and other first responders). Seeing that the traditional networks are bleeding viewers to alternative sources of entertainment (e.g., Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu), they may want to be more concerned with providing a saleable product than with patting themselves on the back for evicting the sexual predators they coddled for generations.
Like most Americans, I did not watch the Academy Awards, nor will I watch the Emmy Awards. TV, movies, and Hollywood in general suck, to put it nicely. I'm recalling a cartoon from my college days, where Dr. Frankenstein is presenting his monster: "I have not only created life from unthinking matter; I have also gotten it a job in television programming." Things have only declined over the decades.
Michael A. Thiac is a police patrol sergeant and a retired Army intelligence officer. When not patrolling the streets, he can be found on A Cop's Watch.