How TV’s Top Cop Shows Are Changing Their Approach to Law & Order

SWAT Shemar Moore
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The reality shows Cops and Live P.D. have been axed, and scripted series about law enforcement are rethinking their own realities as well. Producers, writers, and stars are taking police reform protests seriously — and viewers will see the results.

Besides making writers’ rooms more diverse, networks and production companies are asking experts to help examine how they depict law enforcement, especially when interacting with the Black community. Ronald Davis, a former police chief who worked with the Department of Justice, met over Zoom with makers of CBS Studios shows such as Magnum P.I. and the NCISes. He and his team are a “brain trust,” he says, so storytellers can “understand the issues and the terminology [related] to what’s happening around them.”

Now, on Chicago P.D., proud rule-breaker Voight (Jason Beghe) “will have to reckon with his own role in creating community hostility,” says showrunner Rick Eid. And in 2021, ABC’s The Rookie pledges to address police brutality. 

NCIS: Los Angeles and S.W.A.T. are capitalizing on having lead characters of color (LL Cool J‘s Sam and Shemar Moore‘s Hondo, respectively) who are in law enforcement and are parents. “You’re going to find Hondo grappling with some difficult questions he has to answer,” says exec producer Aaron Rahsaan Thomas.

Donnie Wahlberg Blue Bloods

Blue Bloods (Credit: CBS)

And Blue Bloods intends to be part of the conversation, literally: “When topical stuff comes up, the family always has different points of view,” says star Donnie Wahlberg, “so in a lot of these debates, there are multiple opinions.”