‘Chicago P.D.’ Might Not Survive a Police Reform Storyline

The Black Lives Matter movement has brought attention to some of the racial and social injustices that have sadly become the norm in our society. One of these controversial topics includes the need for police reform.

For decades, police procedural dramas have taken liberties to show police officers overstepping boundaries for the “good” of the people. Chicago P.D. is one of those shows that fans adore. With more than 11 million viewers, it is one of the most-watched television series in America.

For a show that many believe glorifies police violence, many are wondering how the series will look going into Season 8. It remains to be seen if the top crime drama can survive a police-reform agenda.

Jason Beghe as Sgt. Hank Voight looking to the right
Jason Beghe as Sgt. Hank Voight | Matt Dinerstein/Getty Images

Police dramas have come under fire this year

Many critics are calling for network television to put an end to “copaganda” programming. Like it or not, police dramas have become part of the fabric of television in our country. The genre has been popular with viewers since the early days of small-screen entertainment.

There are many types of cop dramas today, allowing fans to pick and choose the style they feel most comfortable with. Whether it is the family element of Blue Bloods or the forensic investigations on NCISthere is something for everyone.

Following the police-instigated death of George Floyd this past summer, activists and protesters want to see an end to this type of programming. They are tired of watching television police officers shown as if they can do no wrong, regardless of their unethical actions.

Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, the creator of S.W.A.T. doesn’t want to see police dramas end altogether. He told Vanity Fair he would rather, “increase perspectives, both in front of and behind the camera.” He said that positive change could occur by showing “police officers portrayed as having the power to empathize.” He knows that it would take a lot of work to turn things around, but said, “It would definitely be worth it.”

How ‘Chicago P.D.’ responded to the criticism

RELATED: ‘Chicago P.D.’ Police Reform is Coming For Hank’s Unit — Will Voight Be Safe?

In response to the country’s current climate regarding police reform, Chicago P.D. is taking the topic head-on in Season 8. The Intelligence Unit is bringing on Samantha Miller, played by Nicole Ari Parker. A Black woman intent on bringing police reform to the unit, she will play the role of the new Deputy Superintendent for the 21st District.

The popular NBC police drama is introducing this character to create an intense storyline line that clearly focuses on police reform. Executive Producer Rick Eid explained to TV Insider that “Miller wants to abolish the ‘warrior cop’ mentality and help Hank Voight and Intelligence adapt to the new reality.”

Miller will have the difficult challenge of getting Voight to change his ways, believing that if he does, the rest of the unit will follow.

Eid made it clear that the show writers will be creating new personality traits for Voight. As the higher-ups start to come down on him, his role as the head of the Intelligence Unit may begin to change. Eid explained, saying that Voight will have to determine whether “he’s part of the problem or part of the solution.”

Will viewers stop watching?

Sergeant Hank Voight, played by Jason Beghe, is a big part of the reason fans watch the television series. His aggressive by-all-means-necessary mentality is why people love him and the show. He isn’t afraid to bend the rules when it comes to interrogating a suspect to get the answers he’s looking for to solve a crime. Voight’s passion mixed with his desire to clean up the streets of Chicago, keep viewers tuning in each week.

With this change in direction for his character, there is a possibility that the show may start to lose viewers. A lot of people don’t want to see the hardcore Sergeant turn soft and have to start answering for his actions.

When hearing the news of the upcoming direction of the show, fans were quick to respond. TV Insider released an exclusive of what is upcoming, and fans are nervous about what’s to come for their favorite tough cop. The article had comments saying that “If they change Voight, the show will fail. He IS the show.” Others commented that they like the characters the way they are and don’t want to see such a drastic change. The consensus was to leave things the way they are, with countless viewers saying, “Voight is the show … please don’t change him.” Only time will tell if Hank Voight is up to the challenge to change, and up to the writers to keep his character intact in the process.