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by Peter Moskos

January 24, 2011

Balto top cop Bealefeld disses The Wire

Jesse Walker writes about it in Reason.

[thanks to Dan K.]


College Cop said...

I agree with what the Commisoner said, and the "Wire" guy as usual blows everything completely out of proprotion (he doesn't take criticism well, then criticises the Commisioner for not taking criticism well...).

I'd watched the wire for a couple years before I ever visited Baltimore (in '07 to visit my wife's cousin for a week before moving on to vist her mom in Harrisburg PA).

After Watching the wire I half expected to be gunned down as soon as I crossed the city limits, if not by the gangbangers, then mistakenly by the cops for being black... but found a normal city not unlike my Native Dallas.

I get where the Commisioner is coming from, the one show people think of when they talk about Baltimore is the Wire, and the Wire makes the place look like some massive hell hole.

Dana King said...

I live about halfway between Baltimore and Washington. My daughter has an aunt and uncle who are both Baltimore City cops. (Central District, I think, though the uncle worked the Western when THE WIRE was being made.)

Like any large city, not all of Baltimore is like what's even on most of THE WIRE; Simon never said it was. There are a lot of scenes and episodes that show a solid, working class city in many ways; no one wants to remember those.

I also remember going to a writers conference there a few years ago, and hearing Baltimore native Laura Lippman (best selling author and Mrs. David Simon) spend about five minutes of her welcoming remarks telling the attendees from out of town they could walk safely toward the Inner Harbor, but not to go more than a block or so farther west on Fayette Street than the hotel because it wasn't safe.

My daughter's uncle once told me they didn't actually film THE WIRE on the blocks they said they were on all the time, in part because they couldn't guarantee security.

I much prefer Baltimore to Washington as a place to spend my time. The people are friendlier and the whole place seems more real. Washington has nothing that compares to the Inner Harbor or Fell's Point. Still, there are large stretches of the city I'd be reluctant to go into. That's where THE WIRE spent a lot of its time, because that's where the problems exist that Simon wanted to bring attention to.

THE WIRE is no more a hatchet job on Baltimore than it would be a whitewash to say the Inner harbor is beautiful and fun. Both are true.

Anonymous said...

I'm just about finishing Season 4 thanks to Netflix. The only troubling thing I've seen with the show are outlandish tactics (e.g., traffic stop done by stopping in front of a suspect vehicle, not handcuffing felony suspects before conducting a vehicle search,etc.) that must have been Hollywood fabrications.

Tell me it ain't so, Professor!

PCM said...

I can't remember specifics. But my general thought about realism in The Wire was it wasn't showing how things should be done. But I don't remember seeing too much of things that were never done. There were some exceptions, such as drunk off duty cops going to the projects to yell at the residents (off duty cops do not go back to "finish their work").

But has an officer never stopped a car by standing in the road? Of course that has happened. I remember once stopping on a car on foot. Of course I didn't stand in its way. And I remember thinking, "why did they stop for me?"

In general (again, I'm not certain about the specific situation you're talking about), suspects would not be handcuffed while a car was searched. In part because you wouldn't have enough handcuffs for a carload of people. The S.O.P. would be to have them sit on the curb, legs crossed, hands on head. Then if they got squirrely, things would change.