'Chicago P.D.': Did the Show Abandon Their Promises for Police Reform?

The killing of George Floyd has brought to light many racial injustices in the country and, in a way, the whole world. The entertainment industry and, more specifically, police procedural shows have not sat pretty in the wake of the civil unrest witnessed in recent months, especially in 2020. That brings us to Chicago P.D.

The protests have forced many showrunners to look hard at the agenda and narrative they push through their shows. Some are listening with fan favorites like Chicago P.D. introducing a reform storyline to direct the narrative away from what many have termed copaganda. Fast forward to 2021, and fans feel like the show has abandoned its promise for police reform.

Cop shows have come under fire recently

Police procedural shows form a significant chunk of the television shows on the air right now. Some might even say they are the fabric of television in the U.S. Ever since the early days of small-screen entertainment, fans have gotten a buffet of shows to choose over. The genres stretch out from family element shows such as Blue Bloods or shows that focus on forensic investigations such as NCIS. There is something for everyone in the world of police procedurals.

However, with the death of George Floyd by a police officer, fans of such shows and protesters want showrunners to put an end to such programming or change the narrative. Some viewers highlighted that some cop shows (if not all) portray a warped depiction of the police by showing police officers as saints who can’t do any wrong (or get convicted) regardless of their unethical and law-breaking actions.

Shows such as Chicago P.D. have gained popularity, with characters such as Hank Voight and Hailey Upton using extreme force to get justice. Although such storylines make for good TV, it is potentially damaging to put that in reality as Voight has always taken a ruthless approach toward his criminals. His dirty cop tactics without consequences only push the copaganda narrative even further.

‘Chicago P.D.’s’ response to the criticism

Chicago P.D. had a speedy response to the criticism regarding copaganda by introducing a police reform storyline with Nicole Ari Parker at the helm of it all. Parker’s character Samantha Miller was introduced by showrunners to help Voight get back into line and eliminate any form of police brutality against the public.

With Voight’s seemingly problematic approach and Miller’s strict reform policies, the two have butted heads a few times but always manage to reach a common ground for the betterment of society. The show also tackled the ‘Blue Wall of Silence’ by placing Kevin Atwater, a Black detective, at the center of the show’s storyline.

The storyline involved Atwater and Doyle going head-to-head with the former trying his absolute best to ensure that he highlights the rot of white supremacy in the police force while remaining safe and still keeping his job.

Is ‘Chicago P.D.’ abandoning its promise?

Season 8 ended with a cliffhanger that saw Voight deciding to cover up for a murder by Hailey. In the finale, viewers saw Voight burning a body after trying unsuccessfully to retrieve information regarding Kim Burgess’ kidnapping that sent her to the hospital in critical condition.

The episode proved that Voight had gone back to his old ways and fans loved it. Viewers took to Reddit to express their joy at Voight’s recent behavior, with many thinking it might be a signal that he will go back to his usual by-all-means-necessary approach to policing.

Although some fans are convinced Chicago P.D. has abandoned its promise for a police reform storyline, the showrunners insist Season 9 will still push for police reform in the Intelligence Unit. Speaking to Monsters & Critic, Season 9 is set to take viewers through Miller’s plan for police reform, considering her son’s death in Season 8 after she told Voight to stand down from searching the killer’s garage without a warrant.

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