By Aaron Cantu
The new NBC series “Chicago PD” (created by Dick Wolf, the man behind “Law and Order”) opens with steel-eyed Detective Sgt. Hank Voight glaring coolly into a rearview mirror from the backseat of a car. We quickly learn that the man driving the vehicle isn’t chauffeuring Voight around by choice.
“I don’t know where I’m going,” whimpers the driver, a young man with a bloodied face and a seemingly broken right arm.
“Just keep driving,” gruffs Voight.
When the two finally pull off into an empty gravel lot, Voight grabs the man by a tuft of hair and yanks him out of the driver’s seat. The sergeant slaps and kicks the young man around until he crumbles to the ground in a sobbing heap.
“Who’s puttin’ out the bad dope?” Voight snarls, and when he follows up by pressing a handgun to the quivering man’s face, the latter finally relents.
“His name is Ralph! He deals out of his apartment in South Emerald!”
Within a minute and a half of the first episode, the show has summed up its central message: Police violence works. This is relayed again and again throughout the series: When a cop with a chain-wrapped fist savagely beats a Spanish-speaking suspect demanding an attorney until he relinquishes a tip; when officers debase the idea of policing without intent to arrest; when cops round up black non-criminals and deliver them to precinct torture chambers. In every episode, these methods achieve the desired ends. The message: Police violence works.