I could have done the black square thing for Black Lives Matter today, but instead I am going to link you to this list of places you can send support and post a review of a TV show about police corruption as a reminder that this has been a long time coming.
One of disgraced LAPD policed chiefs Daryl Gates’ innovations was the CRASH program – giving each LAPD district a specialist CRASH team with a brief to suppress gang activity. It was the sort of tough-talking, dogwhistling deal which Gates had made his trademark, and it paved the way for the Rampart scandal, one of the biggest police corruption cases ever, when massive corruption in the Rampart district’s CRASH unit was exposed.
The full measure of what happened is still unclear, with numerous investigations having petered out and the city authorities allegedly obstructing a lot of the investigations into what happened, but what was proven was more than enough to put the name of CRASH beyond the pale and prompt its disbandment and replacement.
This inspired a brief flowering in the 2000s of media works taking the idea of the CRASH unit as inspiration for the depiction of police brutality. Grand Theft Auto 3: San Andreas did it in Rockstar’s characteristically flippant fashion; more thoughtfully, The Shield was a seven-season exploration of the subject, focusing on a single badly-underfunded LAPD precinct house in the fictional LAPD district of Farmington (or “the Farm” for short, so the police HQ is known as “the Barn”).
For this review, I’m going to take a look back at the first season. Content warning: this is about a cop show which is unflinching about showing the worst of police corruption and brutality on the one hand, and the worst stuff the police have to deal with on the other, and in this season there’s at least one episode which deals with the subject of child pornography. Continue reading “Taking Another Bash At the Shield, Part 1”