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DECEMBER 2, 2018

REACTION PAPER #2
CRIME AND CRIMINAL POLICY IN THE MEDIA

MICHAEL SMITH
UCONN ECE ENGLISH 1011 – WRITINNG THROUGH LIT (MRS. RIVERA)
Information Technology and Software Engineering at Fairchild Wheeler
Crime, Justice, and Media is a chapter from the book Media, Crime, and Criminal Justice

Images, Realities, and Policies written by Ray Surette and published in 2015. In this chapter,

Surette explains the relationship between crime, the justice system, and the media and how this

tightly woven relationship influences our society. Based on portraits of criminals, police, and

people of the justice system in the media, people develop their own understanding of what is

expectable and not acceptable in the real world. Portraits of high-profile crime in the media result

in a similar effect – people develop their own understanding of criminal policy and justice based

off these portraits.

Blue Bloods is an American crime show that follows the Regan family and their lives in

public service and law enforcement. Frank Regan serves as the city’s Police Commissioner. His

older son, Danny, serves as a First-Grade Detective while his younger son, Jamie, serves as a

Sargent. His daughter, Erin serves as a Bureau Chief and Assistant District Attorney for the

Manhattan District Attorney. In the episode that this paper will discuss, “Stirring the Pot”, Erin

and Frank argue over a new policy at the D.A.’s office while Danny takes part in a drug raid with

the Special Task Force (S.T.F.).

In his book, Surette argues that how we think criminals, police officers, and those in the

justice system act as well as how we think the system works are influenced by what we see in the

media. Danny and his partner were forced to take part in a major drug bust with the S.T.F

because their cases overlapped. In one scene, they were being briefed with the rest of the team

and in the next, the raid started. From the moment the raid started, there was constant shooting

and screaming that lasted through the duration of the raid. Tom, an agent on the S.T. F. and an

old friend of Danny’s, hesitated to take down a criminal that resulted in an officer being shot.
This part of the episode allows the viewers to make several incorrect assumptions. The

timing between the planning of the raid and the raid itself does not reflect how such a high

profile raid would be planned and executed in the real world. It takes time before a raid of such

magnitude would be able to be performed. Apart from getting approval from superior officers,

the task force has to ensure that they are not infringing on any legal issues that might become a

factor. This would take at least several days, if not weeks.

The impression that the show gives regarding officers is also inaccurate. It is highly

unlikely that a detective would be allowed to participate in a high-profile raid like the one seen in

this episode, as they do not have the proper training and weapons that would be required. In

addition, Tom’s situation may lead one to believe that this sort of thing happens often, or that

police officers want to see other officers get hurt. However, they only get a split second to make

these impactful decision and it is easy to get lost in the pressure.

Surette also argues that portraits of high-profile crimes in the media also affect how

people view the given crime in our society. Erin surprised Frank with a new policy stating that

the District Attorney would no longer process marijuana crimes and recommended the

legalization of marijuana to the state. She stated that this would help reduce the overwhelming

amount of cases that the DA has to prosecute. Frank’s response was that his officers arrest

people based on the law, and that the law states that marijuana is illegal. Therefore, he continued

to expect that the DA would continue to prosecute any marijuana crimes that the police

department sent their way. When Erin stood her ground, Frank pulled all of his officers from

their court duties for a day to show that he would not stand for the new policy.

What does this storyline in the episode teach its viewers? By not prosecuting marijuana

crimes anymore, could people possibly think that it is okay to break the law and smoke
marijuana? Think about it, if the school principal says that no phones are allowed, but a teacher

says that he is not going to report his students if they use it in his class, would they use their

phone? Yes. The teacher is telling the students that it is okay to use their phones despite the rule

against it. That is what is what happened in this episode. By not prosecuting marijuana crimes

any longer, Erin and the DA are telling New York citizens it is okay to use marijuana because

they are not going to be punished. Also, pulling his officers from court was a very selfish think

for Frank to do. If he did something like this in the real world, there would likely be severe

repercussions.

The media has provided this generation with entertainment seen in no other part of

history throughout human existence. However, sometimes the way media portrays crime and

criminal policy can be a bit misleading. While shows such as Blue Bloods are fun to watch, it is

important to understand that what happens on the big screen may not always represent the real

world accurately.
Works Cited

Harmon, R. (Director). (2018). Blue Bloods - Stirring the Pot [Motion Picture].

Surette, R. (2015). Chapter 1: Crime, Justice, and Media. In R. Surrette, Media, Crime, and Criminal
Justice Images, Realities, and Policies (pp. 1-27).