Southland: Maximum Deployment – A Review of the Police Procedure

Southland: Butch and Sundance


Last night was the end of our ride-a-long program with the crew from Southland, and what a ride it was. The season finale proved to be one of the best episodes to date. The action was nonstop. Secrets were uncovered. And the acting was so doggone realistic it almost made me radio for back up a couple of times.

These guys are comfortable playing their parts, which adds to the realism. So many actors try to wear a police uniform, but their feeble attempts come off as clumsy and sometimes even clownish. There’s a huge amount of pride that goes into putting on a police uniform, and that pride exudes from each of the actors on this show. No one had to tell me that these guys have spent some time hanging out with real LAPD officers. It shows. And that extra effort, along with the wonderfully layered individual plots and stories, is what makes this show a cut above the rest.

Last night’s show opened with a statement that was very powerful. It went something like this…”On this night, Officer Ben Sherman would learn that a cop is only as strong as his partner.”

My early days as a police officer were spent working for a county sheriff’s office. The department was small with a very tight budget, which often meant working an entire county alone, or with only one other deputy. Many times we weren’t afforded the luxury of calling for back up to get us out of tight jams, and believe me, I’ve got the scars to prove it. So we learned to be creative. We also learned the strengths and weaknesses of our individual coworkers. For example, we knew not to wade into a mob of knife-wielding drunks when working with one of the smaller statured, less aggressive deputies. If we did, we’d spend a good portion of our much-needed energy protecting our partner, which was like tying one hand behind your back before jumping into the melee.

However, when teamed up with someone like…

Well, the sky was the limit.

So, the voice-over was absolutely correct…A cop is only as strong as his partner.


This episode was crammed full of action and individual stories, so we’re only going to hit the high points, starting with…

Cooper, Sherman, and Chickie find themselves crammed into a single patrol car, and there’s nothing worse than being the low officer on the totem pole, because that’s the officer who gets the back seat. Remember, this is the seat that’s been occupied by puking, urinating, sweaty drunks with greasy, lice-infested hair. And, the rear door locks and windows are normally inoperable, or they’re controlled by the driver. Not to mention that you’re riding in a cage with little or no visibility. Oh, and the leg room is worse than that of coach seating on a commercial airline.


The three officers are riding together as part of a maximum deployment operation, hoping to nab a serial rapists posing as a police officer. The idea of a maximum deployment is to flood the streets with as many officers as possible. We, too, did this when special problems arose. It can be very effective. Costly, but effective.

Lydia is pleasantly surprised to find her old partner, Russell, back on the job, and the reunited duo quickly take on a double murder case. The crime scene is messy (shotgun blasts) and Russell soon learns he’s still physical incapable of helping his partner with the investigation.


Lydia asks someone—a person from the M.E.’s office, I guess—if they know the time of death. The person glances at one of the victims and says, “Lividity puts it between 1 and 2.” This was a bit disappointing to hear, especially from a show that puts so much emphasis on getting it right. Why? Because lividity (the draining of blood to the lowest portions of the body due to gravity) isn’t really used to tell time of death. It’s just not an accurate indicator. Sure, lividity has its own medico-legal purpose, but that’s normally to tell investigators if a body has been moved after death occurs.

The process of lividity begins immediately after death, but we normally begin to see its effects, the reddish/purple staining of tissue, within 1-2 hours after death and becomes fixed between 6-12 hours after death.

Here’s a chart depicting the important changes in a body that take place after death.

Time since death…..Change observed
1-2 hours: ………Early signs of lividity.
2-5 hours: ………Clear signs of lividity throughout body.
5-7 hours: ………Rigor mortis begins in face.
8-12 hours: …….Rigor mortis established throughout the body, extending to arms and legs.
12 hours: ……….Body has cooled to about 250C internally. Lividity is fixed.
20-24 hours: …..Body has cooled to surrounding temperature.
24 hours: ……….Rigor mortis begins to disappear from the body in roughly the same order as it appeared.
36 hours: ……….Rigor mortis has completely disappeared.
48 hours: ……….Body discoloration shows that decomposition has begun.


We see John Cooper and Chickie arguing again. Cooper tries to convince Chickie that she’s unfit for work on the street, and unfortunately for her, she proves him right when the trio (Ben, John, and Chickie) approach a car owned by a man they believe may be the rapist. Chickie gives the guy the command, “Could you shut off your engine and get out of the car, please?”

Remember, the rapist is a dangerous man.

The man (who, by the way, was making out with a woman in the front seat when the officers showed up), asks the question they all ask, “Why?”

Chickie responds, “Why?”

This was not the time to lose control, allow the guy to stall, and give the suspect time to grab a weapon.

Ben, sensing Chickie’s loss of command presence, immediately took control, ordering the guy out of the car. He then went through the textbook commands of, “Walk backwards toward me, hands behind your head, interlock your fingers, etc.”

Cooper then stepped up to order the woman out of the car…”Passenger, step out of the car…”

Great scene. Shows how it’s really done. It was just the wrong guy.

The trio (John, Ben, and Chickie) hear what sounds like an automobile crash. They immediately call it in and report to the scene. The vehicle is overturned with the injured driver trapped beneath. What happened next was very realistic. I’ve seen things similar to this done more than once over the years. Cooper tells other officers to push down on the rear of the car while he and Sherman lift the front. The weight is lifted from the victim, which allows Chickie to pull the guy free. Then, the three officers continue about their business. Unfortunately, part of that business is dealing with Cooper’s injured back—an injury that could take him off the streets for good. But he deals with it in his own way, through his addiction to pain killers.


In the final scene, Chickie is on her way home from work, in plainclothes, and runs across the rapists’ faux police car. He’d stopped a woman and was in the process of sexually assaulting her when Chickie found him. After a brief struggle (actually, she pounded the guy’s head quite nicely) Chickie cuffed the rapist. Her final words of the season, “I’m the cop. I’m a cop.”

Looks like she just regained her confidence.

What a great show! I certainly hope TNT treats us to another season.

23 replies
  1. Justin
    Justin says:

    Have to agree on the last segment of that episode. First let me say I am a huge fan of the show, and have little in the way of negative criticism, but that last scene with the rapist seemed a bit too contrived, like they had to have Chickie redeem herself despite the unrealism of the scene.

  2. sl
    sl says:

    Please help Southland get another season. Sign the petition:

    Join the Southland Facebook:!/southland?v=wall

    You can also send an email to:
    Philip I. Kent
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
    Turner Broadcasting System

    Steve Koonin
    President, Turner Entertainment Networks

    Michael Wright
    Executive Vice President
    Head of Programming
    TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies

  3. Ron Estrada
    Ron Estrada says:

    Chickie went after a guy dressed as a cop, so it’s a safe assumption he’s armed, right? But she was pumped, knew she had the rapist, and probably still down about the constant berating from Cooper. She wasn’t in the frame of mind to go after this guy. But she did and didn’t we all love it when she pounded his ass. Especially after some great suspense. I think the writers have set her up for a comeback next season. She and Ben will certainly be paired while Cooper gets some back surgery. If TNT dumps it, let’s flood the True Crime channel to pick it up! We’ll offer to write in exchange for some cool toys (a nice Sig P226 for example).

  4. queenofmean
    queenofmean says:

    That scene bothered me, too. She had no idea where the suspect was & with the light, she left herself open as a target. Didn’t seem like a wise move. She’d called for back-up. She should have waited for them to arrive unless he returned to the car. But it all turned okay & she got to say the words “I’m the cop. I’m a cop.”

  5. SaraK
    SaraK says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever commented on your posts before, but I have loved all of them. Yours is the first recap I read after watching the episode of SouthLand. I hope it gets renewed and you continue to recap! Thank you!

  6. Mack
    Mack says:

    I too cringed when I saw Chickie heading into the woods and was about 90% sure what would happen. I was wrong because I thought she would end up shooting the rapist. I was pleased that it looks like she has her mojo back.

    I am interested if you have seen tactically unsound actions like this in real life?

    Chickie is bound to get TV exposure for catching the rapist so maybe we will find out her real first name assuming Chickie isn’t her real name.

  7. weedfield
    weedfield says:

    Good review 😀 Hope we can get to see more of Southland!

    Come on ART, you’re nitpicking at the scene.

    You have to remember Chickie isn’t the super-cop she used to be since the Dewey incident. In U-Boat, she did not even search a male throughly for concealed firearms.

    Thus, not maintaining a tactical distance between the canyon rapist and herself was entirely possible.

    And everything was happening at a heartbeat.

  8. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    No pass from me on that scene, Art. I agree wholeheartedly about it being tactically unsound. It’s always late when I finish these reviews, so I sometimes get a little slack at the end. I believe I finished this one around 3am. Thanks for reminding me, and for setting the record straight.

    Again, I was surprised to see such a glaring error in police procedure from a show that really works hard to get it right.

  9. ART
    ART says:

    Chickie’s tramp through the woods was tactically unsound in every way, from the use of her light to the fact that she was close enough to the suspect for him to push her down once she drew down on him, and she wasn’t able to gain tactical distance. So many things wrong with that entire scene…I’m disappointed you gave it a pass.

  10. Mark Young
    Mark Young says:

    Thanks for a great overview of the show, Lee. I wish more police television scriptwriters/directors would strive for greater authenticity like Southland. Keep up the good work. This show is how I remember it.

  11. Bob Mueller
    Bob Mueller says:

    I liked this one too.

    The way Ben took charge on the stop was great. He did it without being flashy or bossy – he just did it. I’d say Cooper had a lot to do with that.

    The scene where Sal is talking to Kimmy and trying to get her to describe the car that’s approaching her is great. “Kimmy, does it look like Daddy’s old police car?” Just the way to get her to focus.

    I really like the way Adams works a crime scene. “Could you get a shot of this, too?” She’s professional, and polite. I cringed on the time-of-death comment, though. The ME was vague, but not vague enough.

    I was less than thrilled at Chickie walking through the bushes with her light on, though. Yes, she had her weapon out, but I don’t know that I’d have used the light as much as she did. But it’s a tactical decision, and it’s hard to second-guess anyone. Overall I’ve been impressed with the gun handling, although in one episode, I expected Sherman to ventilate the roof when he secured the shotgun, just because it’s happened, and they’ve already shown a couple of cop cliches.

  12. RMW
    RMW says:

    I’m with you in hoping that TNT picks this show up for fresh episodes. At the very least, I’m glad that these six episodes got to see the light of day.

  13. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Catherine – I’ll contact Lisa so she can respond to your questions. In the meantime, you do know we’re holding the annual Writers’ Police Academy at GTCC, right? Some of the top police and forensics experts in the country are presenting workshops at the event. Click on the WPA link at the top of this page for details. Please let me know if you need more information.

  14. Catherine
    Catherine says:

    Hi Lisa I am also interested in forensics and am currently taking cyber crime at G.T.C.C. I am unsure exactly what courses I need to take or how to get into the field. How were you able to get an internship and how should i go about furthering my education. What is the best courses to take etc etc

  15. SusanO
    SusanO says:

    Hello Lisa from a Guilford graduate! I am a writer (although I joint majored in Psych/Justice & Policy Studies at Guilford). At about your age, I got an M.A. in Forensic Psych. Your post was great. I don’t watch “forensic” shows either, but sometimes people assume I do. You’re off to a great start in a fascinating, rewarding career. Best wishes!

  16. urbanpagan
    urbanpagan says:

    Thank you for all the kind comments. My apologies for not being online sooner… busy day at the office.

  17. queenofmean
    queenofmean says:

    Yes, thanks, Lisa for sharing. You sound as if you have the right frame of mind for the job. Good luck.

  18. Elena
    Elena says:

    Lisa, thanks for taking the time to share the whys and wherefores of your journey with us. It was fascinating and delightful. If I have one quibble – it’s to me you are already in the field – Welcome!!!!!!!!!!

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