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The Wire: Season 6, HamCo

Eric Morris, Carmel, Guest contributor 2/11/21 My wife and I are currently re-watching the 2000s HBO series The Wire, about drugs, police, schools, newspapers, unions and political corruption in Baltimore. One of the recurring characters is the colorful state senator Clay Davis, who operates smoothly both in the 'hood and amongst the political donor-crony developer class. A long-time cop investigator Lester Freamon "follows the money" between drug dealers, Clay Davis, real estate developers, and politicians. Davis is eventually charged, though a local jury of his peers acquits him because he delivers a virtuoso performance explaining how he doesn't track his money that well because he ends up helping out constituents that need it, and cash (from his personal account that flowed from the campaign accounts and charities!) is the best way to do that. The inference is that he wouldn't be convicted by a Baltimore jury no matter how corrupt he is. However, Lester Freamon keeps the ace up his sleeve, known as the "head shot", where Senator Davis lied on a mortgage application years ago, which is a federal, rather than a state, crime. Because of politics (the local US Attorney is a Republican since this is the Bush-era) and jealousy/turf guarding (the US Attorney wanted the whole case but the local state attorney kept part of it to raise his own electoral profile), the US Attorney declines to prosecute after the local attorney failed to get a conviction.

Anyway, there is a little too much explanation here, but Freamon, the cop, doesn't give up. He lies to Davis and says he will take this mortgage application case to the Feds if Davis doesn't start giving him names and events for other prosecutable offenses (becomes a "snitch"). Davis, not knowing the Feds have already decided to do nothing, does become a good informant/snitch. Re-watching this series shows that a good cop can do a lot to root out corruption, only if he or she tries.

Where are the good cop investigators of political corruption here in HamCo? Is there any evidence of potential corruption in the merry-go-round game of political donations from TIF recipients and/or engineer/lawyer contractors for the cities here? In the end, Senator Davis points out that the lawyer for many of the drug dealers is really the conduit for much of the corruption and money laundering. Have we had any long-time municipal attorneys resign here in Hamilton County recently under yet-to-be explained circumstances? It is interesting how easily the white collar and political criminals roll over so easily under police pressure, but generally the drug dealers never snitch, even when facing long-term sentences. I have a feeling Lester Freamon would do well here in Hamilton County getting our political-donor class to roll over and snitch on each other. Is there a Lester Freamon here? Would he or she have an easy place to start?

Or is The Wire just a pipe dream? Eric Morris is a Carmel resident and prolific social media content creator and a regular contributor on Hamilton County Reporter Op Ed pages. These are his opinions alone and not necessarily shared by the FCOHC . The Fiscal Conservatives of Hamilton County is an multi-partisan organization of Hamilton County, Indiana residents who are volunteers focused on fiscal policy and fiscal issues. It is free of outside control by any individual, organization or group. It exists to distribute opinions on issues affecting Hamilton County residents. Opinions expressed in signed articles do not necessarily represent the views of all members of the FCoHC or its board members.

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