Southland: Fallout – A Review And Recap

“LAPD officers start every shift knowing they only have a fraction of a second to make a difficult choice. The ramifications will last their whole lives.”

There’s never been a statement about cops that rings truer than the opening voice-over of last night’s episode. A split second that lasts a lifetime. An act that forever spins and twirls inside your head like a crazed ballerina on speed.

You’ve lived all your life as you, and suddenly “you” has become someone different. A stranger. Someone new now lives inside your mind, sharing your thoughts and controlling your actions. The “you” you’d lived with for so long is gone and will never return. That “fraction of a second” was the tipping point that sent “you” away for good.

I’ve shot thousands of rounds of ammunition in my lifetime, popping holes in paper targets depicting faceless men with coke-bottle-shaped limbless bodies. Center mass, that’s the spot. Always the center. And I always left a gaping hole right there. Right in the center.

My “fraction of a second” came a long time ago during a gun battle where 68 rounds were exchanged between a robber and police. I terminated the threat with five carefully placed rounds of my own.

No paper.

No coke bottle.

No score.

All flesh and bone.

BAM! Center mass.

BAM, BAM! Center mass.

BAM, BAM! Center mass.

It was over. And then it began.

Now every day for me is like Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day. The clock sounds at 6am, the music starts, and it’s August 1994 all over again.

A lifetime of that nonsense.

And that same day has just begun for Officer Tang.

Tang is served with divorce papers and the act sets off a wave of emotions. She knew the day would come, but what she didn’t know was how it would affect her job and the way she conducted “cop” business.

Police officers are expected to perform their duties fairly and justly without allowing their emotions to stand in the way of either. But cops are human. They have bad days. Their kids run away. Their cars break down. Their babies get sick. Their plumbing leaks. Their parents die. Their spouses cheat. They’re people, just like you.

But, while they’re dealing with their own personal issues, they also have to solve yours and protect you from the crazies of the world. Sometimes, they have to suck up their own troubles to run inside a burning building to drag you out because you were too drunk to save yourself. They have stop grieving the death of their own mother to stop yours from hacking your father to death with a meat cleaver.

Their kid’s at home with a raging fever that just won’t go away, but they have to stand there and listen while you rant and rave and throw a temper tantrum about cops not doing anything but hanging out in doughnut shops. Sure, you’re yelling and screaming, calling them names and spitting on them because you hate what they stand for, but you don’t realize that an hour before you began your tirade, the officer standing calmly in front of you had risked her own life to pull a baby from a burning car. You don’t even notice the smell of her burned flesh and tire smoke on her uniform. You don’t see the pain in her eyes.

Yes, that’s the kind of bad day Officer Tang was facing. And yes, her emotions were going to cloud her judgement.

– Sammy and Ben are still at it, with Sammy giving Ben a very large cold shoulder. Cooper is trying his best to cheer up Tang. Lydia and Ruben are still not on the same page. She doesn’t quite trust him as a partner yet, so she’s not spilling the beans about her pregnancy. Not yet anyway.

– Sammy and Ben roll up on a disturbance between two food vendors who’re arguing over a parking space. Sammy “burps” the siren once to let everyone know the police are on the scene. Sometimes that single little act is enough to stop a fighter in mid-swing. Saves a lot of unnecessary fighting with suspects. And, the siren noise often sends guys running whose pockets are filled with dope and/or guns. Like shooting fish in a barrel. They make it so easy for the good guys.

– Tang sees a man peering inside a car window and she instantly springs into action—show me your hands, put your hands on the car, spread your feet (cops always say spread your feet, not “spread your legs.” think about the reason for the choice of words), and then she cuffs him. Well, turns out the car belonged to the cuffed guy and he’d locked his keys inside. Cooper walks off to retrieve a Slim Jim from the patrol car (Slim Jims are flat pieces of metal designed to slip between the door frame and window glass. Once inside, officers are able to maneuver the device until it hooks onto the proper mechanism and a gentle push or pull unlocks the door. Newer cars prove to be problematic and often the use of a Slim Jim causes quite a bit of damage inside the door).

Tang issues a traffic ticket to a man who’s waiting curbside to pick up his wife. Sure, he’s blocking traffic but his wife is on crutches and is making her way out of a doctor’s office. She has a broken leg so stopping there was basically using common sense. Tang will not not listen to reason or apologies. Ticket issued. Sign here.

Yes, Tang is having a rotten day.

So are Sammy and Ben, and the pot finally boiled over when Sammy said to Ben, “This car (patrol car) is the one place where somebody’s supposed to have my back.” His meaning was clear. Ben betrayed him when he accused Sammy of planting a crack pipe on a gang member (see last week’s review).

Sammy’s cold shoulder and mistrust continued after Ben saved him from Crazy Carol’s stabbing attempt. Ben thought the act of saving Sammy would be enough to mend the relationship, but Sammy quickly told him differently. “What you did (tackling Crazy Carol) is your job.” Yes, this relationship may be over for good. But one thing that will never be over is the compelling need to protect another officer from physical harm. Hate one another or not, the back up, even if it’s only while on duty, will always be there.

– Lydia and Ruben are still plugging along, working the murder case involving, ironically, a pregnant woman who killed her drug dealing boyfriend/husband (I’m not sure which). There were some good points in these scenes, like when Lydia and Ruben go to the front door to knock and we see two uniformed officers hanging back in the front yard. That’s the way it’s done. Detectives often take uniforms along when they’re about to make an arrest. They do so for a few reasons. One – everyone recognizes a police uniform as authority. Not everyone immediately recognizes a detective. Two – back up. Three – safety in numbers. Four – patrol officers have cages in their cars and much safer to transport a prisoner in a cage than it is to wrestle with them in a detective’s car. Although, we saw Lydia and Ruben transport the woman in their car. Notice, though, that Lydia rode in the backseat with the female prisoner. That’s the standard when you transport without a cage. However, officers should always sit with their gun side away from from the prisoner. Or, lock the weapon in a secure location (trunk, etc.). I noticed that Lydia was seated to the woman’s left in this scene. Is she right- or left-handed? Where was her gun?

By the way, foot pursuits with pregnant women and fat men normally don’t last very long.

Okay, back to Tang. She and Cooper are in foot pursuit of a man with gun. The suspect is wearing a gray, hooded sweatshirt.

Tang follows behind the guy, searching for him in back yards. Did you hear her heavy breathing. Believe me, the adrenaline is high in these situations. You try to be quiet so you don’t give away your position, but you just know the guy can hear you breathing. Your heart beats like a parade drum mallet against against the inside of your chest, another sound that’ll surely send bullets flying your way. But you push on, as did Tang.

Then it happened. Tang’s fraction of a second had arrived.

Her nerves were on edge. She knew there was a guy with a gun.


Heart pounding.


Divorce papers.

Not thinking clearly.



Center mass.

Tang shot the wrong guy, a kid with a toy gun.

However, the shooting was surely justifiable. The kid matched the description of the guy she’d been chasing. And he had a gun. She probably didn’t notice the orange tip (realistic-looking toy guns are required to have an orange tip on the barrel). It’s possible and highly probable that she didn’t. Besides, who’s to say a bad guy wouldn’t paint the tip of a real gun orange to give him that second or two advantage of “what if.” No doubt, the shooting was justified. But…

Tang does the unthinkable. To cover up her mistake, she removes the orange tip from the toy. This action is definitely not justifiable.

Cooper knows in his heart what she’s done. And that’s not what Cooper’s all about.

During the internal investigation, Tang, of course, doesn’t mention the cover-up.

But neither does Cooper. He does, however, confront Tang and tells her to go back inside and tell the truth about what she’d done.

Instead, Tang becomes defensive and goes home, where she digs into her pocket and comes out with the plastic, orange gun tip, and drops it into a bowl on a table beside the front door.

Cooper, troubled deeply about Tang, heads straight for his 12-step sponsor and a meeting. Anxiety’s conjuring up old cravings, and I’m pleased he chose this route instead of the alternative.

Tang, well, unfortunately we’re counting down her final days on the show. I’m pretty sad about her leaving because she was a great addition to the show. I only hope that Lucy Liu’s departure isn’t an omen of…No, I’m not going to say it. Let’s end this week on a happy note, with the possibility of a season 5 on our minds…

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Castle: Once Upon A Crime – A Review And Recap

What a difference a week can make. Beckett’s back in charge and she even managed to hold on to her gun for an entire episode. And miracles do happen, she wasn’t kidnapped, not even once.

Espo and Ryan were back at work being detectives. Castle was funny again. Alexis and Mama Castle were…well, I’m not sure what that mess was all about except to serve as a means for Castle to introduce the “bow theory.” And Lanie was back doing what she does best…

So this week’s episode was all about fairy tales and, between you and me, Lanie probably felt very much at home since a good deal of her forensics information comes straight from the pages of Grimm. Well, with the exception of what she gets from the lady above and from this guy…

You know, I was ready to stick a pin in my own eye when Lanie said, “She (the victim) was running from something. She has dirt on her feet.”

Now that was a scientific conclusion if ever there was one. Hmm…make a note, writers and future jurors. Everyone with dirty feet has been running from something.

– Lanie did make one true statement. “…I won’t know exactly what killed her until I get her back to the morgue.” Yes, Lanie, that’s where the process—the autopsy and learning what happened—takes place. In the morgue, not from thin air. Like…knowing the hair found on the victim’s arm was wolf hair. What? To learn this, she’d have to test the hair specifically for wolf using primers to amplify a DNA sequence that’s specific to a wolf. Now, how many times do you think that happens in the real world? “I found a hair on the arm, doctor. I’m pretty sure our New York City victim was killed by a wolf, so that’s what I’m testing for, first.”

– Based on the depth and length of the gashes, looks like the wounds were made from one claw. First of all, how’d she know a claw made the marks?

– Ketamine and Oxycontin were used to sedate/kill the victims in this episode. Now, I understand the reason for using the combination in the first murder. That was explained—Ketamine was injected but didn’t quite do the job so a second injection of Oxycontin was used to finish off Red Riding Hood. That’s all fine and good, but why would you repeat the process a second time knowing it didn’t work?

Of course, you know that when people are attacked they’ll most likely fight back so, wouldn’t you want to eliminate the need of having strategically place a needle directly beside another needle mark while someone is doing their best to bash your brains out of your skull? After all, the fight to survive is fierce. Besides, an injection of either of these drugs wouldn’t render someone unconscious the second the needle hit the flesh. People use these drugs as pain relievers (one for people and the other for animals). They abuse both drugs as a means to get high, not as a sleep aid.

Besides, the victims were fully dressed, in costume, positioned on their backs, when Lanie “predicted” the needle marks on their backs.

– When Lanie was discussing Snow White’s death she said, “Time of death was between five and seven this morning.” Finally! She made her time of death statement without goofing it up by offering some stupid reason as to how she arrived at the conclusion. You know, like, “Time of death was between 4 and 6 based on the chicken driving a race car at right angles to the bowl of sheep fingers and donkey snouts.”

Time of death was between five and seven. That was great, and that was all that’s needed at the time. Stop there Marlowe and you’ll be fine. Otherwise, poor Tamala Jones sounds really goofy. I feel sorry for her at times. I really do.

– Again, Beckett is back! She’s in charge, doling out orders and making decisions without having to bat her eyelashes and wiggle and jiggle to get Castle’s approval before she makes a move. Repeat after me…Castle is a civilian. Beckett is the cop. Castle is a civilian. Beckett is the cop. Anyway, is was good to see the old Beckett back at work this week. Don’t you think she’s more appealing this way than when acting like a gun-losing, high-heel-wearing, insecure, supermodel wannabe?

– The team narrowed down their suspects by eliminating the people who couldn’t be suspects. Now that’s the way it’s really done. Also, they found Charlotte Boyd (who turned out to be the killer—pegged her early on, by the way) by eliminating people who couldn’t/wouldn’t be the next victim. Good, basic police work.

– The entire blackmail case was very weak and not very well thought out by the writer. Why would people pay $50,000 for a crime they didn’t commit, as suggested by the final victim/killer. It was obvious that she was the killer, by the way.

– Don’t you love how security cameras are always, always, always in the right place at the right time with absolutely perfect full face shots of all suspects and witnesses. In real life, we normally see a grainy, black and white shadow where the face is supposed to be, making the guy look like some weird character from a horror movie.

Oh, and this red herring guy, Darren…didn’t work at all. We didn’t hear enough about him to make us believe he was a killer. Besides, the boilerplate script told us he wasn’t the guy.

12 parts to a Castle script:

1. The crime.

2. Lanie provides set up with horrible forensics information.

3. Team splits up to locate clues and witnesses.

4. Espo and Ryan pop in with exactly what Beckett needs to…

5. Kick in a door to the wrong place.

(insert kidnappings and gun-losing, as needed).

6. The red herring is introduced, usually by glaringly shoving him/her in our faces.

7. Beckett and/or team interviews red herring. He didn’t do it.

(insert kidnappings, as needed).

8. Castle magically discovers the identity of the real killer

(lose gun and kidnap Beckett and Castle here)

9. Someone returns Beckett’s gun.

Beckett makes arrest.

10. Everybody smiles and back slaps all around.

11. Sweet, goofy, touching moment.

12. Credits roll.

And – Scenes from next exciting episode of Castle…that airs either two, three, or four weeks from now after two, three, or four reruns.

Anyway, back to this episode.

– Castle notices the bows are tied differently, and he sees the odd one when walking into a room where he thinks the woman on the bed has been murdered and the killer could possibly be inside the home, hiding??? Where are his eyes focused now (above)? Where would his focus be when he first saw the woman on the bed? On the bow? Probably not. Besides, what would have drawn his attention to the bows on the other victims? That’s something that would (maybe) have been noticed later when searching for clues while comparing photos.

But, even with the usual Castle goofiness, this episode was much better than the stuff we were subjected to over the past two weeks. Actually, I’d like to forget about those two episodes. Maybe flush them into the place where bad things go. Things like Christina Aguilara’s rendition of The National Anthem, and Ashley Simpson’s SNL performance.

Yes, the crew was back this week and the episode was fun and quirky. And, of course, after four long years of not even breathing heavy and Marlowe telling us to be patient (I’ve seen human corpses and dead snails move faster than this relationship), there was this…

Yep, the relationship is moving right along…

Melanie, what’d you think of this episode? Better than last week?

Melanie Atkins

Well, after the convoluted fiasco last week, I was thrilled to see the promos for this one. Once Upon a Crime deals with a killer with a nursery rhyme theme — not anything to laugh about, unless you consider the gallows humor — and this episode brimmed with it. A dead Little Red Riding Hood brought out all sorts of Big Bad Wolf jokes… and yes! The banter was back! Not only between Rick and Kate, but also between Rick and Martha, who is putting on a strange one person play, and Ryan and our dynamic duo. This was classic Castle, and I loved it.

Sure, Lanie spouted off a few crazy notions, like claiming lividity had something to do with determining the first victim’s time of death, or that the second victim had received injections like the first one had — while she was still on the ground fully dressed at the crime scene. But the excellent banter allowed me to ignore those glitches.

Even better, Martha called Kate to invite her to her play at the loft, and then Martha told Rick, “You should make a date of it.” Maybe we should call her Matchmaking Martha. Rick’s response to all this? He pulled out the scotch. Hilarious!

We got more Ryan and Esposito this week, too, and they had a priceless scenes in the old lady’s apartment when Ryan freaked out about the dolls. I’ve got to admit, I thought they were creepy, too. So funny.

We also got some movement on the Rick-Kate front. When Kate got mad about the case at one point, Rick said, “You get cute when you get angry.” And unlike in earlier seasons, Kate didn’t get upset at all. She just smiled. Rick backed off anyway, of course, saying, “But not when you’re angry at me.” I love seeing progress in their relationship.

Then we got a bit of foreboding when they discussed the secrets the killer’s victims had been hiding for seven years. Kate said, “Secrets are like time bombs.” And Rick added, “Yeah… they explode.” Yikes! Yes, they are each still keeping secrets from each other — Kate lied to Rick when she said she didn’t remember his I love you after she was shot, and he hasn’t told her he’s still digging into her mother’s case and Kate’s own shooting — and we know that sooner or later those secrets will come out, with explosive results.

I was disappointed when Rick realized they’d arrested the wrong killer and they had to leave Martha’s play to finish solving the case, a simpler puzzle than we’ve had lately, but with a nice twist. A case I actually enjoyed hearing about.

Then they went back to the loft for Martha’s encore performance! Just Rick, Kate, Alexis, and Martha’s boy toy playwrite. How intimate and sweet. Caskett perfection, with Kate sitting on the couch next to Rick — and then she took his hand! Yes, I squeed! After the bones we’ve been thrown lately, this was true progress.

Now, we have a two week hiatus thanks to March Madness… and I know which episode I’ll rewatch during the break. This one! I loved it.

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Cooking With Cops: Emily’s Hangover Soup

The shift is over and we’ve swapped the uniforms and gun belts for aprons and spatulas. That’s right, folks, it’s time for Cooking With Cops, and we’re pleased to have Emily Farnham join us again this week. Last week’s baked apples were to die for…

And I’m sure this week’s recipe, Emily’s Hangover Soup, will be just as electrifying. So let’s dive right in.

As always, we must first collect the evidence.















 The Procedure

First, lean over the bowl and begin to pray, promising to never, ever drink again…

Oops, wrong procedure!

Here you go:








*Today’s recipe comes to us from the kitchen of Southland fan Emily Farnham. You can visit Emily on Facebook. You can visit Southland Tuesday nights on TNT at 10pm. You can enjoy Emily’s Hangover Soup anytime.

*Do you have a recipe you’d like to share with thousands of daily Graveyard Shift readers? If so, please contact us at

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Friday’s Heroes: Remembering The Fallen

The Graveyard Shift extends our condolences to the families of these brave officers.

Sergeant Michael Todd May, 41

Monongalia County West Virginia Sheriff’s Department

February 18, 2012 – Sergeant Michael Todd May was killed while in pursuit of a hit and run driver. During the chase, the driver turned and rammed Sergeant May’s patrol car, causing it to crash.

Sergeant May’s patrol car at the crash scene

Jerod Alan Green of Morgantown has been charged with homicide by vehicle while DUI, first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, second degree manslaughter of a law enforcement officer, DUI of a combination of alcohol and drugs, and several other charges. According to wvaccidentlawyer, online records from the Oklahoma State Courts Network indicate a man with the same name and birth date as Green pleaded guilty to third-offense DUI and subsequent offense DUI almost five years ago.

Sergeant May leaves behind his parents and brother.

Trooper Tony Radulescu, 44

Washington State Patrol

February 23, 2012 – Trooper Tony Radulescu was shot while making a traffic stop. Deputies discovered the wounded trooper laying beside his patrol car after dispatchers were unable to reach him by radio. He was rushed to the hospital where he died as a result of the gunshot wound.

A SWAT team located the suspect, Joshua Blake, at his mobile home where he committed suicide as the team approached.

Cop killer Joshua Blake

Blake had a long history of domestic violence and abuse, and had served time in jail for various offenses.

Trooper Radulescu’s body arrives at the medical examiner’s office ~ News Tribune image

* A special salute to Lt. Cato Collins who passed away this week at the age of 83. Lt. Collins served 34 years with Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. He was an inspiration to every officer he met.

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Top 10 Books Written Behind Bars

Since the time of Saint Paul, great writing has come to us from authors in prison. Such works include thoughtful memoirs describing the author’s spiritual journey toward redemption. Other works are unapologetic, even decadent, provoking never-ending debate as to their literary value. Here are 10 examples of inspiring, influential, and provocative books that were written behind bars.

  1. Cell 2455, Death Row: A Condemned Man’s Own Story by Caryl Chessman

    In 1948, Caryl Chessman received the death penalty for robbery, kidnapping, and rape. While serving his time in San Quentin State Prison, Chessman wrote a memoir, Cell 2455, as well as other books about crime and the prison system. Although relatively unknown today, Chessman’s case drew attention and support from around the world. He even appeared on the cover of the March 21, 1960, issue of Time Magazine. Chessman was executed after 12 years on death row and eight stays of execution.

  2. In the Belly of the Beast: Letters from Prison by Jack Abbott

    Jack Abbott’s letters to author Norman Mailer describing life in prison were published in 1981 as In the Belly of the Beast: Letters from Prison. Mailer recognized Abbott’s talent and successfully campaigned he be released on parole after having served several years for forgery, stabbing another inmate to death, and robbing a bank after briefly escaping from prison. Tragically, just a few weeks after his release, Abbott stabbed a man to death. He returned to prison, where he eventually ended his life by suicide.

  3. Conversations With Myself by Nelson Mandela

    Former president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela was imprisoned from 1964 to 1990 for his role in the apartheid resistance movement. Conversations With Myself includes several of Mandela’s writings done while in prison. Critics and historians have noted the collection provides a fascinating emotional subtext to South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement. “Until I was jailed,” writes Mandela. “I never fully appreciated the capacity of memory.”

  4. Couldn’t Keep It to Myself: Wally Lamb and the Women of York Correctional Institution (Testimonies from our Imprisoned Sisters) compiled by Wally Lamb

    New York Times bestselling author Wally Lamb has taught writing to women in prison for many years. Couldn’t Keep It to Myself is a collection of essays by women he’s taught, each now empowered by their ability to convey their life stories in writing. Bonnie Foreshaw, who contributed to the collections, says, “What I hope is that people reading this book will bear in mind that we are human beings first, inmates second.”

  5. Mother California: A Story of Redemption Behind Bars by Kenneth Hartman

    Kenneth Hartman is a contributing writer to The Huffington Post and a published author. Since 1990, he’s served a life sentence with no possibility of parole for killing a man in a drunken fistfight. He was only 19 at the time of his conviction. In his memoir, Mother California: A Story of Redemption Behind Bars, Hartman unflinchingly describes his literary and spiritual journey without a trace of self-pity. A recording of Hartman reading the first chapter of Mother California is available on his website.

  6. Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet

    Jean Genet wrote what would become his first published novel, Our Lady of the Flowers, while in Santé Prison, initially on brown paper provided to prisoners to create paper bags. The novel’s collage-like structure, explicit descriptions of homosexuality, and mixture of poetry and slang was hugely influential on the writing of the American Beats. Genet biographer Edmund White wrote of Our Lady of the Flowers, “If anyone in prison had bothered actually to read what he was writing, Genet would have been in trouble, since his work made clear he had no intention of reforming, getting a job and renouncing crime.”

  7. Soul On Ice by Eldridge Cleaver

    While serving a sentence for marijuana possession at Soledad Correctional Training Facility and another later sentence at San Quentin State Prison for attempted murder, Eldridge Cleaver read and found himself inspired by the writings of Karl Marx, Thomas Paine, and Malcolm X to name just a few. His still-controversial 1968 collection of essays Soul on Ice, mostly written while he was in prison, had a profound influence on the black power movement and established his status as one of the most influential American political activists of the ’60s and ’70s. The beginning of The Black Panthers’ complex history and Cleaver’s own political and spiritual development begins in this brutal, intelligently written memoir.

  8. Letters and Papers from Prison: A Biography by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    German Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer participated in the German resistance movement against Nazism. He was imprisoned and ultimately hung for his involvement in plans to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer’s posthumously published Letters and Papers from Prison: A Biography, appearing for the first time in English translation in 1953, influenced both Christian and secular thinkers, activists, and leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Bishop Desmond Tutu.

  9. By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives by Judith Tannenbaum

    Writer Judith Tannenbaum and Spoon Jackson met at San Quentin State Prison where Jackson was serving a sentence for murder. By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives is a collaborative memoir, born out of their connection as teacher and pupil and as fellow poets. The book alternates chapter by chapter between Tannenbaum and Jackson to tell the life stories of two very different people, each with “one foot in darkness, the other in light.”

  10. Death Around the Corner by C-Murder

    Written during his electronically monitored house arrest, C-Murder’s Death Around the Corner is a fictional account of growing up young, black, and poor in New Orleans’ Calliope projects. C-Murder, real name Corey Miller, drew on his own life experience to tell the story of Daquan, a young man whose father is jailed for a murder Daquan witnesses as a child. There’s a moral center to the book that elevates the matter-of-fact descriptions of drug abuse, sex, and violence to that of great, autobiographical literature. A chapter describing Daquan’s visit to see his imprisoned father is one of the book’s many surprisingly poignant and effective moments. Miller’s life sentence for murder was recently upheld, and he is currently serving his sentence in Louisiana State Penitentiary.

*Today’s article brought to you by

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Southland: Integrity Check – A Review And Recap

“The average street cop in Los Angeles makes $75,000 a year. It’s not enough.”

Ben is standing in a place that’s all too familiar to veteran cops all across the country. He’s on top of the world—at the very tip of the peak—and he’s balancing on the big toe of one foot. Seasoned officers, officers who’ve been on the job for many years, have been there and done that. They’ve all gone through the “I-just-finished-my-training-and-I-know-more-than-every-other-cop-in-the-world stage.

Sherman thinks he’s the hotshot cop who can save the world from everything and anything. And he’s got Badge Bunnies hopping around him like he’s a human carrot in uniform. But he’s got a lot to learn…a lot. Like discovering what it actually means to be a police officer, and how to truly become a partner to the guy who’s standing beside you while facing a dozen angry, armed gang members. Your partner, the guy who has your back through both the good and the bad.

Nope, being a cop isn’t all running fast, looking cool in uniform, and dodging bullets. First and foremost, of course, it’s about protecting the public, putting their lives before yours. And it’s about trusting your partner and knowing your partner trusts you. Without earning that confidence, well, you may as well start scanning Craigslist for job openings, because you’ll never be a real cop. Never.

And Ben absolutely must realize that the way to earn the trust of the public is not by engaging in a menage-a-jump-out-the-second-story-window-trois with Ima Killu’s wife and her friend. But Ben’s in that “stage.” He’ll learn. They all do. But it takes time, a few hard knocks, and plenty of hurt feelings, and maybe even a couple of official reprimands. And, he’ll probably be on the receiving end of a nasty bite from a rabid bunny before it’s all over.

Officer Sherman has reached the first critical crossroads in what could be a long career. Will he choose the right direction? Well, that’s up to the writers, and so far they’ve done a fantastic job of taking us on the journey. And Ben is allowing us to see that trip through his eyes. A really great job by both the actor and the folks who put this on paper.

Lydia’s on a personal journey of her own. A journey that’s experienced by many female officers. A journey that male officers will probably never fully understand. She’s torn between a career she absolutely loves and the little one inside that she isn’t sure she should even want, at this point. She knows that once she tells the department, they’ll surely put her on some wacky desk job, like filing papers in evidence, or answering phones at the department’s “I’m Calling Because I’m Stupid” hotline. And you know what…wearing a uniform after working in plainclothes for any period of time almost seems like a demotion, even if it’s not. And, those things are hot and uncomfortable!

Lydia demonstrates just how uncomfortable a uniform can be when we see her slide out from behind the wheel for the first time back in uniform.

Sgt. Adams unhooks her seatbelt and leans to her left, getting out of the patrol car. Did you happen to notice the grimace when she made the move to step out? Now that brought back memories. Do you see the space between her belt line and the bottom of her vest? Well, picture a wide and thick gun belt attached to her regular belt, at the top of her pants. Then, imagine as you lean to the side that space between the belt and the vest narrowing until it finally closes…with the soft flesh of your side pinched tightly between! Yes, that’s the cause of the wince. It hurts. Yeah, I know, being pregnant didn’t help any.

Lydia’s next move was to grab the top of the vest that had pushed upward toward her throat. She pulled it out and away from her body, an effort to relieve the irritating claustrophobic choking sensation. Now this is something that you get used to (the vest choke) but officers still do “the grab and pull” all the time, all day long. First, to stop the choke, and second, to allow the oven-like heat that’s trapped between the vest and your skin to escape and be replaced by a bit of fresh, cooler air.

– Cooper and Tang are stuck with a camera crew riding along, capturing their every move and word. That’s a scenario that cops are generally not fond of. They don’t trust the media because the media sometimes paints officers in a bad light, especially when any kind of force is used to subdue suspects.

I have many friends who work in various aspects of the media and it’s always an eye-opener for them when we invite them to attend police training so they can get a feel for why cops do what they do. The absolute biggest opinion-changing eye-opener is when they go through FATS training (firearms training simulator) where they’re faced with actual shoot/don’t shoot scenarios that happen in real time. Their reactions are most often of disbelief, horror that things escalate so quickly, and they’d have been killed if they’d hesitated to use deadly force, which many do…the first time.

Anyway, Cooper and Tang are called to a bakery where there’s a dispute between the owner and a customer. Coop and Tang separate the two (good technique) and then make the customer leave. In the meantime, they work with the man’s wife and the owner to reach a solution. Of course, all this takes place with the man’s young child in the thick of it all. And that, I’m afraid, is often the norm. Children suffer because daddy or mommy can’t control themselves or their actions.

– Sammy attempts to talk to a man whose son was killed in retaliation because he helped the police (Sammy) identify a criminal suspect. The man punches Sammy, blaming him for his son’s death, a death Sammy also feels responsible for causing. Sammy doesn’t fight back out of guilt.

– Ben and Sammy respond to an officer needs assistance call. The officers who needed the help were an oddly-matched pair—a male officer who was rather large and extremely out of shape, and a female officer who, as Sammy described, was, “Five foot and 99lbs soaking wet.” He resented having to come to aid because of their physical limitations.

Now, male or female. each officer should be able to hold their own and not have to call for assistance on calls that shouldn’t require assistance. I feel Sammy’s pain. When you’re trying to arrest a combative suspect and you spend most of your energy protecting someone who could barely lift a 5lb bag of sugar, well, that person is a liability on the street. They could easily get hurt and, their partners will surely be hurt trying to protect them.

I once worked on a shift with a person who was 4’11, weighed 91 lbs, had to sit on a pillow to see over a patrol car steering wheel, and couldn’t pull the trigger on a standard, department-issued weapon because his/her fingers were too short. Now, I ask you, would you feel confident wading into a bar fight among motorcycle gang members with that person as your backup? I’ve done it, and it wasn’t a good feeling. Sammy was right. Some people shouldn’t be cops.

– Ben and Sammy roll up on a group of guys who immediately set their beer bottles and cans on the ground. That’s exactly how it happens in real life. Good scene. And Ben’s searching technique was spot on—have the suspect clasp his hands behind his head, officer grabs the fingers of both hands and slightly leans the guy backward, off balance. Then he starts the pat down with using his free hand, Patting every (I mean EVERY) area of the body, searching for weapons and other contraband.

– When Ben and Sammy first started their shift Ben began a search of their patrol car, looking under the seats, etc. This is done every day, between every shift, by both oncoming officers and those leaving for the day. The purpose of the vehicle search is to locate any contraband that may have been stashed there by suspects who’d been transported in the back seat area/cage. The search is supposed to be conducted after each transport as well. Then, oncoming officers know that anything they find belonged to the last suspect who rode in the car.

Ben thinks Sammy planted/conveniently found a crack pipe in their patrol so he could frame the guy he believed killed a witness to an earlier crime. He accuses Sammy of the illegal and immoral act only to learn later that the pipe was already inside their car, left there from the previous shift. The officers had neglected to search at the end of their watch. Ben attempts to apologize but a lot of damage has been done. He didn’t trust his partner. He didn’t back him…stand by him. Didn’t believe in him. Unlike Sammy who stood by Ben when he punched the girl. Remember?

It will be interesting to see how the tension between the two partners works out. If it works out. That sort of incident makes it extremely difficult to trust your life to someone you’re not sure will be there for you when you need him.

– Cooper and Tang are behind a car. The driver’s nervous and, like many drivers across the country, he starts doing all sorts of dumb things. Black and White Fever is the cop’s name for what happens to drivers who suddenly realize a police car is behind them. They start swerving, braking too often, stopping in odd places, run red lights, and more. So Cooper nailed this one on the head, stating that drivers forget how to drive when a cop car shows up in their rear-view mirror.

_ Lydia earns a spot in the ER when she’s struck in the belly. But the physician assures her that the baby is fine. Lydia, though, is not. And a lone tear rolled down her cheek to let us know that she’s hurting from far deeper pain than the punch in the gut.

Now, regarding Lydia. It was great to see her in uniform and in action last night. Did you notice how the show seemed to fly by from opening credits until the screen went dark at the end? That’s because there were none of those “driving and thinking” scenes to slow us down. No walking around a crime scene talking about feeling sick and sad. Nope. None of that. And I certainly hope the writers remain on this track, because action, realistic action, is what makes this show stand out from all the other cop shows.

Southland is all about the day-to-day action that patrol officers face during their shifts. And that’s the stuff that drives the show’s fan crazy with excitement and enthusiasm.

And talking about realistic action…

How about Tang and knife-wielding woman? Great scene, and she and Cooper were right. They should have shot the woman when she first lunged at Dewey with the knife. But deep inside you never want to do that. You just don’t. So Tang tackled her, hoping to end the situation in the best possible way. It wasn’t her fault the lady was injured.

Then comes Cooper’s fight-for-his life fight scene. Now that was how to insert tension into a TV show. It was real. Very real. If I could’ve crawled into my set to help Coop I would have. And that brings up my final point for the week. These actors take their roles so seriously that their characters come across as real people. And I, for one, am glad that these guys are out there to protect us, even if it’s only for one night each week.



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