‘Chicago P.D.’: Does the Show Accurately Portray the City of Chicago?

Television’s biggest procedurals are set in the United States’ biggest cities. The entire One Chicago franchise, including Chicago P.D., Chicago Med, and Chicago Fire, is set in the windy city. But does the show really portray Chicago in the way that it really is? One actor opened up about this topic a few years ago.

'Chicago P.D.' stars
LaRoyce Hawkins as Kevin Atwater, Jesse Lee Soffer as Jay Halstead, Patrick John Flueger as Adam Ruzek on ‘Chicago P.D.’ | Matt Dinerstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Is ‘Chicago P.D.’ a good representation of Chicago?

In a 2018 interview with The Knockturnal, actor LaRoyce Hawkins was asked about the show’s depiction of Chicago versus Chicago in actuality. As a Chicago native, Hawkins’ perspective is able to balance the fiction and reality well

“Well you know I was born in Harvey Illinois specifically, right outside of Chicago, so honestly that’s where I pulled my experience, that’s where my references come from,” she said. “I didn’t move to downtown Chicago until I got on the show, but with the producers making Atwater from Harvey just like I am and with Harvey being a microcosm of Chicago’s energy, those were the references I pulled from and I do my best to make sure my character has the balance and the authenticity that the show needs.”

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Hawkins says that people like him that are a part of the cast and crew are able to authentically give representation to Chicago on-screen.

“Naturally, with a show like Chicago P.D., you’d be surprised how many of us actually aren’t from Chicago, so with that being said it’s up to the people who are -and I’m proud to be one of them,” he explained. “There are other people in the crew and other people affiliated with the show that are from the Chicago area as well, and we just do our best to make sure we add as much reality as possible.  But, I think the show does a great job of not just keeping a good balance of the city and telling a well-balanced story, but the camera loves Chicago.  I don’t think anybody shoots Chicago as beautifully as when Chicago shows have.  At least in my television experience, Chicago is really the main character and that kind of respect from a Chicago native is all I can ask for.”

‘Chicago P.D.’ will tackle police reform now

Like many police procedurals such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Chicago P.D. is facing backlash as viewers and activists want the series to accurately portray racism and police brutality.

The show is taking steps to incorporate police reform in its new season.

Nicole Ari Parker has joined the eighth season as Deputy Superintendent Samatha Miller. The character is described as “a progressive, ardent proponent of police reform” who wants to help Voight (Jason Beghe) and Intelligence “adapt to the new reality but will not tolerate breaches of the new police guidelines and protocols.”

As reported by Deadline, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police, the topic is set to addressed by most of the police procedurals in their new seasons. “Chicago P.D.‘s central character Detective Sergeant Hank Voight has been among those singled out for his violent methods that include breaking fingers with pliers and putting guns in the mouths of criminals,” says the outlet.. ‘Parker’s Miller is expected to rein in that behavior and hold Voight and his team accountable by imposing high professional standards.’

Originally a spinoff of Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. has been renewed for three more seasons.