TV show about policing East New York draws scrutiny from local residents – Spectrum News NY1

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In “East New York,” the upcoming police drama on CBS, a reform-minded inspector takes over the local precinct, pushing officers to treat neighborhood residents respectfully and even consider themselves as part of the community.
“Together, we are going to stem violence in East New York,” the inspector tells her officers in a trailer for the show.
Yet in the real-life East New York neighborhood, the TV show bearing its name is being met with considerable skepticism. 
With most types of crime on the rise across the boroughs, elected officials and local leaders are frustrated to have their home further associated with violence. 
And after decades of community-led, grassroots efforts to improve the social, health and infrastructural conditions that have fed crime in the area, they are dismayed to have the first major TV show centering on East New York portraying virtuous policing as the answer to these systemic issues.
“It feeds the stigma, more than it helps our continued progress that we’ve been on,” said Melinda Perkins, the district manager for the neighborhood’s community board. “This is going to feed the world another view of East New York. And the question is, does it reflect who we really are?”
The NYPD declined to comment, and referred questions to the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, which did not respond to questions. 
CBS and Warner Bros. Television, which is producing the program, declined repeated requests to interview the program’s showrunners, William Finkelstein and Mike Flynn.
“We feel strongly about the type of show we are creating,” Finkelstein and Flynn said in a statement provided by press representatives for CBS and Warner Bros. Television. “Our goal is for viewers who actually live in East New York to feel that their neighborhood has been accurately and respectfully portrayed on screen. And that viewers unfamiliar with the area will gain insight into the community and get to see the neighborhood for what it is for the people from there — home.”
The show, shot partially on location in East New York and nearby neighborhoods, stars Amanda Warren ("The Leftovers") as Regina Haywood, a longtime beat cop with family ties to the area. When Haywood is promoted to commanding officer of the 74th precinct — a fictional stand-in for East New York’s 75th precinct — the trailer for the show’s pilot shows her using her mandate to encourage officers to live in the neighborhood and force detectives to honor a suspect’s request for a lawyer.
The cast includes Jimmy Smits, best known for portraying Detective Bobby Simone on the seminal cop drama “NYPD Blue,” as well as Richard Kind (“Big Mouth,” “A Serious Man”), Elizabeth Rodriguez (“Orange Is The New Black”) and Kevin Rankin (“Breaking Bad”).
“East New York,” which premieres in early October, is CBS’ latest law enforcement drama, part of a stable that includes programs like “NCIS,” “FBI” and “CSI.”
The show’s focus on law enforcement comes as neighborhood groups have increasingly sought to move away from policing as the primary means for improving living conditions in the area. The massive 75th precinct, which has historically served as a launchpad for citywide leadership roles in the NYPD, has a checkered history. 
In 1992, the arrest of a 75th precinct patrol officer, Michael Dowd, exposed years of local corruption that saw officers working with a drug cartel to steal and traffic drugs. Dowd’s arrest led to the Mollen Commission, which concluded in a report that the NYPD’s failures to rein in misconduct had fostered a culture of lawlessness.
The seven-five, as it is called, now has the most logged complaints with the Civilian Complaint Review Board of any precinct in the city, according to CCRB data. In 2020, it paid out the most overtime pay in the city, with its officers working on average 477 overtime hours that year, compared with a city average of 306 hours, according to Bloomberg. 
This year, the precinct has seen rising crime in most categories, including shootings, compared with 2021 and the years leading up to the pandemic.
Although “East New York” begins with the notion that the local precinct is in need of an attitude adjustment, local community leaders say they feel it will not go far enough in presenting law enforcement’s history in the area. 
“Don’t try to sanitize the 75th precinct with a Black police officer coming in with some fictitious methods for curbing violence in East New York through policing,” City Councilman Charles Barron, who represents much of the area, said in an interview. “We always say policing is not the answer.”
Earlier this year, Barron’s office sent the show’s producers a letter signed by local tenant groups and religious communities calling for it to be canceled. 
“​​I have met with various churches, community-based organizations, and tenant associations who have done the work to safeguard our community’s thriving narrative – they too feel that this series will do nothing more than displaying our community negatively,” Barron wrote. 
Despite the creators’ goals, Barron said he received no response to his letter, and other local community leaders said they have not seen any outreach from the producers, either to seek input on the show or to offer information about it to residents. 
“We want to know how we’re being portrayed,” said Chris Banks, the president of the 75th Precinct Community Council, a volunteer police liaison group. “We’re waiting to see how this is gonna look, what it’s gonna be about, and how it’s gonna impact our community.”
Some residents are hopeful that the show will paint a picture of East New York as the vibrant, diverse and resilient neighborhood they know it to be. 
“It can reflect everything that goes on in East New York,” said Gregory Dyar, 65, a lifelong resident. “Not just the crime, not just the bad things.”
Dyar, a self-described former gang member who now spends his retirement teaching boxing at a local gym, said he felt the show could have hired local residents to work on its production, and brought their knowledge of the neighborhood to bear on its storylines. 
Perkins said she hopes the show will give due credit to local violence interrupter organizations that aim to stem gang-related shootings and interrupt cycles of deadly retaliations. 
“The only thing I’m hopeful for in this talk of this program, is that it fuels us further to do the work,” she said. “It gives us the type of drive that we need to continue to fight for what we know we deserve in this community.”


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