BALTIMORE (WJZ) — HBO’s ‘We Own This City’ premieres Monday, April 25, on HBO and HBO Max.
The six-episode limited series tells the story of corruption and failures within the Baltimore Police Department, specifically the Gun Trace Task Force.READ MORE: War Of The Words: Governor Hogan And Mayor Scott Spar Over Baltimore Crime
“Things are more complicated than people see at first blush and we try to tell it in a nuanced way. There’s no other way around it. It’s a very negative chapter in the city’s history,” Baltimore Banner journalist Justin Fenton said.
The series is based on Fenton’s book by the same title he wrote when he covered the federal trials of the officers for the Baltimore Sun.
“Sitting in the trial—the information that came out—it was really jaw-dropping stuff,” Fenton said. “To hear it come out of the officers’ mouths themselves. They weren’t just allegations by the Government. These were things these officers admitted to. And, it was stuff to come out of a TV show about bad cops, but it was something that was happening right here.”
Fenton is listed as a consultant on the show. He described his role storyboarding and making sure the story stayed true to the source material. The series is produced by George Pelecanos and David Simon, known for their work on ‘The Wire.’ ‘The Wire’ premiered on HBO nearly 20 years ago.
“For people who want a ‘(The) Wire’ sequel, it’s as close as they’re gonna get. I think it has that familiar feeling. It’s the same creative team behind it,” Fenton said. “It’s an updating of what people saw in ‘The Wire’ about how systems can allow things to go wrong and fester without true accountability.”
The show features several actors who had roles in ‘The Wire,’ including Jamie Hector, who plays Det. Sean Suiter.READ MORE: Delays Reported On US 50 East Before Bay Bridge
“I didn’t even recognize the harbor, from end to end, amazing, beautiful,” Hector said of the comparison between Baltimore then and Baltimore now. “But, then as we got deeper into the city, I was really shocked that this building looks exactly as when we left (shooting The Wire).”
Baltimore native Josh Charles plays Det. Daniel Hersl, the former GTTF member serving 18 years in federal prison.
“It’s not obviously his unique story, but where he fits in the fabric is he’s the one person in the Gun Trace Task Force who’s actually born and raised in Baltimore proper,” Charles said. “I listened to consistent body cam footage, often it was of him. I tried to get as much as I could from other people so I could get glimpses of him.”
Charles said he rode with police in the Southwestern District before filming to better understand police and community perspectives.
“Wow, the actions of these men have intense reverberations and a real ripple effect on communities to this day,” Charles said. “You felt people you were talking to people reference Taylor and Ward. ‘You don’t understand what it’s like. We had to deal with that then.’ And, it’s very rare to have a moment in your research that really just pops into the story you’re telling.”
The series spans six weeks, but Fenton says the story is far from finished. Investigations and prosecutions continue.MORE NEWS: Memorial Day Travel Weekend Begins in Maryland
“We just had a trial two weeks ago where a veteran sergeant took the stand and outlined 20 years of misconduct we otherwise wouldn’t know about,” Fenton said. “How has the police department changed? Have they got a handle on this type of thing? And how has that changed the way they police the city? The story’s definitely not over.”