Dope on the table

Okay, so someone at a conference asked Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld what he thought ofThe Wire. Watch the video below and see if you can tell exactly when the Commissioner makes his first mistake:

If you answered “As soon as he opens hisfuckmook mouth,” you’d be right.

Bealefield says heknows David Simon. If so, then he was probably not surprised by this:

Publicly, let me state that The Wire owes no apologies—at least not for its depiction of those portions of Baltimore where we set our story, for its address of economic and political priorities and urban poverty, for its discussion of the drug war and the damage done from that misguided prohibition, or for its attention to the cover-your-ass institutional dynamic that leads, say, big-city police commissioners to perceive a fictional narrative, rather than actual, complex urban problems as a cause for righteous concern. As citizens using a fictional narrative as a means of arguing different priorities or policies, those who created and worked on The Wire havedissented.

Commissioner Bealefeld may not be comfortable with public dissent, or even a public critique of his agency. He may even believe that the recent decline in crime entitles him to denigrate as “stupid” or “slander” all prior dissent, as if the previous two decades of mismanagement in the Baltimore department had not happened and should not have been addressed by any act of storytelling, given that Baltimore is no longer among the most violent American cities, but merely a very violent one.

Others might reasonably argue, however that it is not sixty hours of The Wire that will require decades for our city to overcome, as the commissioner claims. A more lingering problem might be two decades of bad performance by a police agency more obsessed with statistics than substance, with appeasing political leadership rather than seriously addressing the roots of city violence, with shifting blame rather than taking responsibility. That is the police department we depicted in The Wire, give or take our depiction of some conscientious officers and supervisors. And that is an accurate depiction of the Baltimore department for much of the last twenty years, from the late 1980s, when cocaine hit and the drug corners blossomed, until recently, when Mr. O’Malley became governor and the pressure to clear those corners without regard to legality and to make crime disappear on paper finally gave way to some normalcy and, perhaps, some police work. Commissioner Bealefeld, who was present for much of that history, knows it as well as anyone associated with The Wire.

12 thoughts on “Dope on the table

  1. Damn! I didn’t know Rawls made it to the Commissioner’s seat! Miracles never cease!
    Good on Simon for defending his work. That douchenozzle commish should have just said Thank You for all the jobs and for casting a light on just how hard it is to fix cities that are royally screwed up.

  2. Reality & prioritiesBealefeld
    Hey, your “Publicly, let me state that The Wire owes no apologies” link is wonky.

  3. I can’t find “exemplorary” in the dictionary. Does anybody know what it means?

  4. Yes… whatThe Wire needed was a guest appearance byWalker, Texas Ranger so the Baltimore cops could look a little more “kick-ass”.
    Episode could end with Chuck Norris going “Who’s that whistling out there?”.

  5. You’ve got to give him a break that police and video have a very complicated relationship.
    Like can someone explain to me why:
    1) Police have cameras installed in their cars because they are so good at showing exactly what happened
    2) If police are called to a scene and there is a camera rolling, the first thing they do is insist that the camera be turned off. And folks with cameras at demonstrations seem to be, in many cases, singled out by the police.

  6. I am proud to be an acqaintance of Mrs. Simon, a woman of vast intelligence, wit, concern for others and a superlative taste in men, if not in acquaintances.
    That said, The Wire is the best damn thing ever written for TV.

  7. David, on Facebook “Mrs. Simon” refers to her husband as “Mr. Lippman.”

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