CBS Television Studios has signed an exclusive agreement with law enforcement and public safety advisory group 21CP Solutions to consult with the writing staffs of CBS crime procedurals and legal dramas, Variety has learned exclusively.
The move comes in the wake of national protests against police brutality, and in Hollywood, discussions about entertainment’s role in how law enforcement is perceived by the public. 21CP Solutions works with cities, states and federal jurisdictions to “advance 21st century policing and lead some of the most significant police reform efforts in the country.”
The group is made up of police chiefs who have “turned around troubled police departments and renewed the community’s confidence in their agencies,” lawyers and community leaders who have overseen public safety and reform efforts, and social scientists and academics studying public safety.
“Police and legal series have been a mainstay of the Studio’s roster and the Network’s schedule for decades,” said David Stapf, president of CBS Television Studios. “We have an opportunity to build on that successful foundation going forward, and having the insightful and highly respected advisors from 21CP Solutions at our disposal is a valuable resource to our creative process.”
R. Scott Gemmill, showrunner and executive producer of NCIS: Los Angeles, says he is “very excited” about the CBS-21CP alliance.
“Having an audience of millions of viewers each week comes with a great deal of responsibility,” he said. “This new partnership will help us ensure that our storytelling continues to produce accurate portrayals of law enforcement, and will hopefully allow us to play a small part in the ongoing reform moving forward.”
21CP Solutions partner Ronald Davis served in the Obama administration as the director of the United States Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services from 2013 to 2017.
He says he applauds CBS Studios for being cognizant of the impact that its shows have on the relationship between police and the communities they serve and on “public perceptions on law enforcement, crime and race.”
“The CBS and 21CP Solutions partnership is a first-of-its kind effort that will provide CBS and its writers with technical advice, based on the historical and current truths and realities of policing, as well as contemporary efforts to transform policing and reimagine public safety,” said Davis.
Davis’ team that will work with CBS includes: Laurie Robinson, the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University; legal scholar Matthew Barge, who specializes in police practices an civil rights, and has served as a federal court monitor overseeing police reform consent decrees; Roberto Villaseñor, a member of President Obama’s task force on 21st century policing and a 35-year veteran of the Tucson Police Department, including six years as department chief from 2009 until his retirement in 2015; Annette Sikka, who spent time in Kosovo overseeing police monitoring, training and assisting with operational policy development for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the United Nations; and attorney Brian Maxey, the former COO of the Seattle Police Department, who has extensive experience in police management.
The team-up follows CBS Studios’ recently announced partnership with the NAACP to develop programming, as well as CBS Entertainment’s pledge to increase diversity in its writers’ rooms in the 2021-2022 TV season and allocate at least 25% of program development budget to creators and producers of color.
“Providing our writing staffs with the best and most knowledgeable technical advisers offers more inclusivity and perspective,” said Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, executive vice president of diversity and inclusion at parent company ViacomCBS. “With deeper and richer narratives, our shows can convey experiences that are more authentic to the communities they depict.”