Howard Colvin

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Robert Wisdom (Howard Colvin)

"There's never been a paper bag for drugs. Until now." When the department brass issued an ultimatum to commanders demanding that they effectively manage the crime rate in their districts, Western District's Major Colvin didn't re-classify felonies or juke the stats, as other district supervisors did. Instead, Colvin actually attempted to reduce the crime, and he did so by attempting something as outrageous as it was effective: he legalized drugs in his district. A career cop emboldened by his pending retirement, and he longed to make a real impact in the community. He ordered his troops to push all criminal elements into three largely uninhabited areas with the following caveat issued to dealers: if you're caught breaking the law anywhere outside of those three locales, there will be a harsh penalty.

It was a long-view strategy to centralize the drug elements of the city, letting them operate with impunity so long as they did the least damage possible to the surrounding neighborhoods, and so long as it achieved a remarkable reduction in crime throughout the district as a whole. But it was also untenable politically. When the plan was exposed by Councilman Carcetti - ambitious to discredit Mayor Royce and his administration - Colvin was made a scapegoat, relieved of duty and forced to retire at a lieutenant's grade. Even as he was destroyed by his innovation, Colvin still managed one last act of police work, passing along a vital tip that resulted in Avon Barksdale's arrest on weapons charges. He faces another impossible task when he's lured back to work by UM Professor David Parenti to be his partner in a school-based program at Tilghman Middle to target at-risk kids. Segregating some of the school's toughest discipline cases into their own special class, Colvin makes headway with some of the kids - and eventually takes in Namond Brice to raise him as his own.