Television

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

For the most part, the series' characters revere due process rights rather than seeing them as something to be trampled in pursuit of justice.

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What's a cop sitcom to do when the decidedly unfunny killing of George Floyd by a police officer upends the plan for its eighth and final season? Brooklyn Nine-Nine didn't address Floyd in depth, but it didn't shy away from acknowledging police brutality and police union corruption nor from offering a subtle critique of politicians more interested in virtue signaling than in solving problems.

Criminal justice reform wasn't the sole focus of a season that revisits all the sitcom's traditions. But in the season opener, Detective Jake Peralta, often depicted as an investigative genius, assures a victim of police brutality that he's "one of the good ones" before coming to realize that, actually, the system often doesn't work even when good people are involved. Later in the season, Peralta makes a wrongful arrest but then admits wrongdoing (even though the police union tells him not to) and accepts a suspension.

For the most part, the series' characters revere due process rights rather than seeing them as something to be trampled in pursuit of justice, a trend all too common in serious police procedurals. In the end, though, Brooklyn Nine-Nine's crime-fighting heroes steal from and mislead the police union president and his mother in order to convince the commissioner to implement police reform. While good cops hoodwinking bad cops in service of police reform is a great comedy set piece, it's still true that noble ends shouldn't be used to justify crooked means—especially for police officers, with their special powers and privileges.

NEXT: Brickbat: Slammed

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  1. "the series' characters revere due process rights rather than seeing them as something to be trampled in pursuit of justice, a trend all too common in serious police procedurals."

    That trend needs to be talked about a lot more. The long-running Law & Order is a great example. A long time ago, their formula became having a bad guy who was a real POS (usually rich and white, since L&O was woke before it was cool) and then have Sam Waterston's DA wink as the cops did things just this side of the line to make sure they caught the bad guy. The rights of the suspect and procedural requirements of the enforcement apparatus gets a discussion in every episode--but almost always to complain about how bad guys get away because of that stuff. Some other more recent shows like Chicago PD show the bad side of going down that path, but the Law & Order approach is far more common.

    I believe these shows did a lot to lay the groundwork for the situation we have today. Cops and DAs watch them and subconsciously absorb the cowboy approach, and the public watches and mindlessly cheers for the good guys despite the serious issues with how those good guys are acting. It's not the only or the most important cause, but it definitely is one.

    1. That's because a just system punishes the guilty and exonerates the innocent. The fact that you're blaming television for law enforcement generally not adopting the "right thinking" (in your view) - the unnatural position that procedural mistakes should exonerate the guilty just underscores the point. Courts were wrong to try to convince people of that position by force. And, as always, to attempt to set policy in general.

      Dirty Harry was right. Mapp v. Ohio, Miranda v. Arizona, and a litany of other Warren Court mistakes were wrong.

      1. Yeah, that's great as long as Dirty Harry never shoots an innocent person, a random neighbor's dog, throws a flash-bang into a baby's crib because he's raiding the wrong house, etc ad nauseum.

        Your comment is exactly what I'm talking about. In the movies, cops only ever bend the rules when the bad guy is really bad. In real life, they get used to bending the rules and it becomes no big deal to them, even when the bad guys sometimes turn out to be innocent afterall.

        1. You're missing the point. I don't know if it's on purpose. If a cop "shoots an innocent person, a random neighbor's dog, throws a flash-bang into a baby's crib because he's raiding the wrong house, etc ad nauseum" none of that bears on the guilt or innocence of a defendant. Now or as concerns the point I raised.

          If your goal is to stop law enforcement from abusing their authority by exonerating criminals not only is that obviously an idiotically poor incentive for the actors you're trying to influence, but you have provably failed, in our 60+ year experiment with "criminal rights."

          Do you think police make more or fewer mistakes now - intentional or not - because you credibly threaten to unleash murderers and rapists on the public?

          You know what would have worked better? The system we had before leftists on the courts agreed with your public policy. Law enforcement was civilly liable for violating privacy rights.

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      2. I think you should watch Magnum Force again.
        Inspector Callahan gives one of the best arguments against vigilantes, especially cop vigilantes on film.

        1. Vigilantism isn't the "rights of the suspect and procedural requirements of the enforcement apparatus," which is what the original poster was talking about.

          You should watch Dirty Harry again and listen to the part where he recoils from the explanation of the Exclusionary Rule, which was expressly the reason the villain was let out of custody.

  2. "when the decidedly unfunny killing of George Floyd by a police officer"
    Ah sure, and Trump never condemned white supremacy, and he colluded with the Russians, and he told everyone to drink bleach, and he jerked off at a military parade, and... more news at 7!

    As much as it is possible nowadays to like new series, I do like B99. But I'm not going to watch their final wokeified season... I do intend to keep fonder memories of those characters. I probably shouldn't have watched Picard (1st season only) either for the very same reason... oh boy did they succeeded at butchering, raping and then further desecrating the carcass of Star Trek with the most malicious inhuman zeal imaginable...

    1. If the cop had not kneeled on Floyd's neck for so long, Floyd would not have died. Ergo, he was responsible for Floyd's death. Presumably you are complaining that Floyd had enough drugs in his system that he would have died in a few minutes anyway. Too bad. That doesn't excuse euthanasia by nurses and doctors to put terminally ill patients out of their misery. It doesn't excuse suicide in the eyes of the Catholic Church. It doesn't excuse Derek Chauvin (probably mispelt).

      The cop killed Floyd, whether you think it was justified or excusable.

      1. Your very first sentence is an enormous lie, and your presumptions are also wrong. The fact is that it wasn't proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the kneeling (mostly on the back, and not with full force) was the cause of death. In so far as it may have contributed to his demise (which isn't concluded by the original autopsy report, it was just a preliminary assumption), the cop couldn't have known that this will be the result. He had utilized a technique which was in accordance of local police guidelines. Now in a reasonable world we would debate whether he applied the technique correctly, whether it was needed, etc... but as you can see you yourself had immediately jumped to incorrect conclusions and conjectures. I still remember the original CourtTV episode where they concluded that the technique was indeed in the police manual, so this itself ought not to be grounds for prosecution, and they also added (foreshadowing that this was an open and shut case) that this is probably one of the worst cases BLM could find to demonstrate 'police brutality' or 'racism'.

        So the fact is that Chauvin was indeed one unlucky cop since he had managed to find the only person that day who was susceptible of dying due to the application of an approved police technique (though Floyd may have died anyway). This technique - as you are probably aware - had been used on thousands of people to this date and most if not all people have obviously survived it. He was also unlucky because the onlookers were filming the whole stuff and it vent viral (msm immediately went into a frenzy to spread their 'truth' about what happened that day). Nobody bothered to check out the bodycam footage, only after every 'knew' what the msm wanted the people to know. And finally: as much as this sounds horrible he would have gotten away with it had he just shot Floyd at an opportune time (until he could know that F. had no weapon maybe?) He was a victim of optics, so to speak, since it doesn't matter that he and the other cops were overly patient with Floyd for almost an entire hour... all that mattered eventually that he appeared to have choked Floyd... facts, medical examination and biology be damned!

        Lastly, the libertarian take on the story: it was obvious that once it went viral and BLM became a thing, there was a huge likelihood that this will be a show trial. Indeed it was. The jury didn't even consider the defense's case. But it should have been about justice and the cops should have been tried based upon these facts. Yes, they have possibly made multiple mistakes, like failure to get professional help in a timely fashion or failure to apply in situ medical assistance they ought to give overdosed people, and most of all, that technique might have been unnecessary (even though it was legal)... but still, the facts are that they weren't intentionally in the wrong. Regardless of that, Chauvin got one of the harshest punishments for multiple manslaughter charges despite appearing on the footage to be not at all aggressive. There clearly wasn't any mens rea and the actus reus is at best, partial. This whole story would be ridiculous if it wasn't such a gross miscarriage of justice.

      2. "If the cop had not kneeled on Floyd's neck for so long, Floyd would not have died."

        Objection, your honor. Supposition, ignores facts in evidence.

  3. For the most part, the series' characters revere due process rights rather than seeing them as something to be trampled in pursuit of justice.

    Yes.

    That is why it is a sitcom, not a police procedural.

  4. The bigger issue with regards to this show: Stephanie Beatriz or Melissa Fumero?

  5. Another show about our heroic first responders/government employees. I wonder why there are so many on TV.

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