This week’s episodes, exhibiting the ideals of loyalty and betrayal, both serve as continuities in The Wires overarching theme of corruption within law enforcement and organized crime.
In the aftermath of Kima’s shooting we see that the only officers who are truly concerned with her wellbeing are those closest to her. We have seen the cliche story of the corrupt cop who let’s his desires in the moment destroy his judgement entirely. However, now we see another example of the struggles that are in place for the good cops on lower levels of hierarchy.
In the scene at the hospital, it is no longer about Kima and giving Barksdale maximum jail time. It is instead about how Commissioner Frazier can use this incident to make a public statement. Immediately after the shooting, the task force is ordered to use the evidence that they have to issue warrants and seize as much physical evidence as possible (drugs and money). Freeman tries to explain that this “Dope on the Table” strategy will hurt them in their grand plan and damage their entire operation. However, this is a political statement and it is no longer about the case itself.
In another matter of political pressure, Daniels is cornered by Burrell. He is encouraged to leave out important information in regards to the money because of how it may affect the politicians in the city.All of these issues are examples of the cracks in the hierarchy. The system is broken. Everyone is using the power that they have to their personal advantage and then expected to never “snitch” on others within. You are expected to support your colleagues because that is how it should be done. The cops on patrol abuse their power within the violence of their arrests and the commissioner abuses his power with his expectations of his Lieutenants.
McNulty addresses this issue. It rolls back around to the issues of insufficiently dedicated police officers. Everyone is more occupied with their next promotion than the lives of the people involved in their cases. In other words, as Lester Freeman stated, “You follow the drugs, you get drug addicts and drug dealers. But when you follow the money you don’t know where the fuck it’s going to take you.” Those occupied with their next promotion are too preoccupied with following the drugs to get drug busts, instead of following the money which would open up the opportunity to shine light on the roots of the drug problems in America.
There is direct parallelism in this example between Law Enforcement and the community within the Low Risers. In this city “the law enforcement acts as a criminal gang with legal guns and badges.” There is an atmosphere within both communities of self preservation. It is essential first to take care of yourself in whatever manner that entails. We see this directly through the killing of Wallace. Bodie is more concerned with his lateral promotion and less with his horizontal relationships. Bodie and Poot are Wallace’s closest friends so he could not even imagine that his life would be in danger with them. This made it transparent that in navigating “The Game” there is a thin line between companionship and occupational responsibilities. It is a job to them and the more you exhibit that you are willing to do, the better off you will be. To Bodie, this was his time to shine as “a smartass pawn”.
Just as Daniels is expected not to prosecute against the politicians, Wallace and Dee are expected to stand by Barksdale. Both systems are propelled by these ideas. The same aspects that keeps the drug business afloat Is what cripples law enforcement.
Overall, these episodes also show how intertangled the two communities are. As the drug business gets more sophisticated the corruption in the law enforcement follows. As we have seen, you cannot truly tackle one without taking down the other. This is why America has truly lost the War on Drugs. We attack the wrong subjects and continue to prosecute with the wrong motives. You need more than just the “drugs on the table”. You need the money trail and everything else that kept the operation afloat.