David Simon has found a life and a career telling stories about those in and around law enforcement - from the police to the lawyers, from the criminals to the bystanders. Starting out as reporter on the crime beat, on to a non-fiction author, a screenwriter, and eventually a showrunner, he's told those stories in HBO's The Wire, NBC's Homicide: Life on the Street, and more.
And on the occasion of the release of a graphic novel based on Homicide, we talked to Simon about the real life that has inspired his stories - and a modern phrase that's been bandied about that reverberates from those streets and precincts we know Simon all too well for. We're talking about the 'Defund the Police' movement.
In an interview with Popverse's Zach Rabiroff, Simon deftly avoids the extreme polarity the term 'Defund the Police' has for some people and sees it more accurately as a heightened call for police reform.
"You still need a police deterrent, and if we try to pack it up and remove it, people die," Simon tells Popverse.
"Do you need the police deterrent as we have it currently? Do you need to spend this money on mass arrest? Do you need to target people over substance prohibition? Did this many people need to be incarcerated?" he continues. "Those are different questions than defunding."
Simon's perspective is formed by his previous career as a police reporter for The Baltimore Sun, and his subsequent life as a writer and producer of books and TV shows about police and the broader criminal system in Baltimore and beyond.
"Eventually, in Baltimore, our generation had finally got down to cops robbing people, which is something else I did a television series about [2022’s We Own This City]. "But I’m against the drug war. I’m against police violence, and against militarization. Call me crazy, but I still think that when a human life is taken, you’d like somebody to go out there, and take the person who’s taken a human life, and remove them from society for some measure of time."