In the 2000-2004 TV series The District
, the solution to Washington, DC
's high crime rate, one of the highest in the country in spite of up to 30 different agencies having some jurisdiction in the city
, is to hire former New York Police Department
officer and Newark (NJ
) Police Department Chief
Jack Mannion, played by Craig T Nelson, to head and reorganize the Metro Police Department, with the idea that he could bring down DC's crime rate the way he did Newark's.
The series is inspired by former NYPD Deputy Police Commissioner Jack Maple and his book The Crime Fighter
(co-written with Chris Mitchel), which discusses his work in reorganizing the NYPD. Maple is given creator credits, but his involvement with the series was limited due to his death ten months after the show first aired
This series provides examples of:
- Awesome by Analysis: The whole point of CompStat (Comparative Statistics) is apparently so Chief Mannion can demonstrate this trope.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: A rapist working at a shop that repaired Metro Police cars used access to official cars and a police uniform to get close enough to intended victims to capture them for the assault. This didn't do any favors for the real MPD (particularly one officer who bore a superficial resemblance to witness descriptions of their attacker), when news stories about the rapist mentioned his MO. Sergeant Brander even wound up being shot by a panicking motorist stopped for a traffic violation, though he was wearing a bulletproof vest under his uniform shirt at the time, so he wasn't harmed.
- Bulletproof Vest: Sgt Brander is said to be wearing one in the episode described above. Unlike many shows, though, they skip the part about ripping open the outer shirt to reveal the vest, which is only mentioned after the fact in a "he would've been dead if..." comment.
- Clueless Mystery: Typical of police dramas, many investigations are more so about the characters than the actual mysteries so the viewers aren't given enough clues to solve them.
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Ella Farmer, on her way back from a lunch break, sees a man fall from a ladder, and when his breathing stopped, she moved him to perform CPR. The move paralyzes him, and in response the family files a lawsuit against her.
- CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable): Averted in the season four episode "Breath of Life". Sergeant Brander performs CPR on another officer, using it the proper way to keep the victim going long enough for an ambulance to arrive and give full first aid treatment, after the victim's partner refused to do it because the victim is gay. Brander forgetting, in a tense situation, to use a mouth guard makes for a minor bit of suspense, as he waits for test results about whether he caught any disease (particularly AIDS) from the victim.
- Debate and Switch: A white plainclothes officer shoot and killed a black armed undercover cop after he chased off some punks trying to rob him. The officer claims the undercover pointed his gun at him but the strong suggestion that race played a factor in his judgement call (and 2 previous unrelated incidents where a white cop mistakenly shot a black cop under similar circumstances) leaves many in doubt about his story. Until the police locate one of the youths the undercover chased off, who confirms that he pointed his gun before getting shot and everyone agrees they need to train officers to identify themselves sooner during tense situations.
- Diplomatic Impunity: In one episode, a diplomat's son was using a diplomatic bag from his father's embassy to smuggle drugs. The son himself was covered by diplomatic immunity because he was going to college at the time, requiring Mannion to go to the university's Dean to get him kicked out of school before they could arrest the drug-running son.
- Justice by Other Legal Means: An ambassador's son was smuggling drugs in diplomatic bags - specially marked and exempt from searches as part of diplomatic immunity. The cops convince a citizen known for clumsy driving to make a fender-bender on the kid's car, so the contents of the bags in the trunk can be examined. For damage. The traffic cops are admirable: fast, polite and by-the-book. The commissioner is overseeing them personally. While reading from said book. And it's all in the guise of preventing a diplomatic incident. The son has diplomatic immunity (and so can't be charged) because he is still a college student, so the Metro PD have to make their case to the Dean and get him expelled before successfully charging him.
- Outranking Your Job: Mannion is seen personally directing investigations and even getting in on arrests, though he does spend more time supervising and directing strategy from headquarters than many other examples of this trope.
- Pædo Hunt: One episode features a serial killer targeting pedophiles listed on the sex offender registry. A number of the officers assigned to the case express moral ambiguity over having to catch him, if not outright support for what he is doing. A subplot deals with Ella Farmer's neighbor, who is harassed and ultimately forced to move because he is on the list despite having been wrongfully accused.
- Reckless Gun Usage: A woman gets shot with no one nearby. Turns out some punk got a hold of a World War II gun and test-fired it by shooting down the apparently-empty street.
- Reality Subtext: Lynne Thigpen's sudden death in 2003 caused much disruption to the show's production. When production resumed, the memorial service for her character coincided with Mannion's removal from the Washington police force.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Ella Farmer's cancer was made fatal by the Real Life death of the actress that played her, Lynne Thigpen, to a cerebral hemorrhage.
- Sexy Coat Flashing: In an opening scene, a lady gets into a club party by opening her fur coat to show her lingerie and figure, although it wasn't to seduce the Bouncer as much as convince the bouncer to let her meet a champion boxer who was attending the party.
- Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000: Served as an important plot point in the episode "Something Borrowed, Something Bruised", complete with flashes to and from reality and screams of "It was only a game!" The goal of the game is to beat an unarmed bystander to death.
- Your Cheating Heart: Finely subverted in one episode: The mayor is spotted having discreet meetings with a young Asian-looking woman. Turns out she is his illegitimate daughter from when he was serving in Vietnam.