David Simon, creator of the beloved HBO show “The Wire,” has revealed that police asked him not to bring attention to the technology gap between police and criminals in Baltimore, Md. The show, which ran from 2002 to 2008, was broadcast at a time when police investigations were struggling to adapt to more people abandoning their landlines for cell phones. Showing that police were behind the ball on HBO might have doomed important investigations.
Simon explained to the Baltimore Sun “the transition from landlines to cellular technology left police investigations vulnerable well over a decade ago.” Simon's comments Saturday came after the news that the Baltimore police department used stingray surveillance, controversial technology that tricks thousands of phones into providing their information to the police, more than 4,300 times since 2007. Echoes of the stingray were seen on season three “The Wire” when Detective Lester Freamon uses a Triggerfish, which is similar to a stingray, to build evidence against a drug gang.
Police specifically asked Simon and show co-creator Ed Burns not to show that the once-popular Nextel phone which acted like walkie-talkies “was actually impervious to any interception by law enforcement during a critical window of time.” Simon told the Sun, where he worked as a crime reporter before creating “The Wire,” that he and Burns worked to convince the rest of the writing staff “that to highlight this vulnerability in our drama would have irresponsibly driven the communications of every criminal conspiracy into an impenetrable hole.”