Can people change?
East New York Season 1 Episode 3 asked that pivotal question, and it seemed like the answer was yes (despite what Killian thought).
But if Regina doesn't learn to play the political game, she might not be able to continue doing that work.
Regina and Deputy Mayor Sharpe again butted heads after Sharpe brought Vincent's grandmother to the precinct to demand her grandson be released. Regina was right to throw the two out.
Vincent's grandmother didn't understand that Vincent had committed a serious crime. She thought that because he had no record and Regina was also Black, she'd release him immediately so he wouldn't become the victim of a racist justice system.
He might indeed become a statistic if he had a record, but it was equally true that he had thrown a block of concrete off a rooftop, nearly killing Regina, and had thus far shown no remorse for the crime. The solution wasn't to ignore what he did; it was to impress upon him the harm he had caused.
What Regina ended up doing was in line with restorative justice. She made Vincent understand the potential consequences of his actions before giving him a second chance.
Vincent's grandmother came around once he was released. But it would have been easier to get her there if Sharpe hadn't been in the middle of this, subtly pressuring Regina to do what one of his constituents wanted.
Regina has every reason to hate that kind of politics. She's not going to compromise on her ideals so that Sharpe can keep his voters happy, nor should she. In the long run, it's better for the community if a kid who is colossally screwed up is held accountable than if he's simply released back into the community without learning anything.
That is how to make the streets safer. The "broken windows" idea where people are jailed for years over minor offenses won't do it, nor will refusing to punish them at all when they do something seriously wrong.
I was about to yell at the writers for letting Brandy be the one to get through to Vincent. The idea of a perky white cop getting through to a Black kid when his family couldn't didn't sit well with me. Fortunately, she was only part of the team trying to turn Vincent around, and Regina got the climactic scene.
Regina: Why'd you throw that concrete?
Vincent: I saw other dudes throwing things and thought it would be funny.
Regina: If that concrete had hit someone there's a good chance you would have killed them. Do you find that funny?
Vincent: No, ma'am.
Regina: You have something you want to say to me>
Vincent: I'm sorry.
Regina: I know you are. But I need you to remember what it feels like to be scared and to be sorry.
Regina made Vincent understand that he nearly killed someone by going along with the crowd instead of refraining from behavior that he knew was inappropriate. She also impressed on him that it wasn't always enough to apologize and that he needed to make better choices.
She did it without being judgmental or condescending. That was probably the most significant factor influencing Vincent; the last thing a kid in trouble needs is for people to judge him for his bad choices.
The other thing she did was stress accountability. Brandy and Yee tried to instill fear in him, which helped him understand where he didn't want to be, but without the insight into why he got into trouble, Vincent would have made the same mistakes.
Killian and Morales' investigation was interesting and straightforward. Unfortunately, it also included an ex-con who went back to bad behavior.
Demonte said that someone "made" him create the Glock switches, but he didn't go into enough detail for it to seem like anything but an excuse. Mario came after him for refusing to refund or otherwise make amends for the switches not working correctly -- but why did he make them in the first place?
As far as Killian was concerned, Demonte's choices proved that criminals never change their ways. This was a silly proposition -- Regina believed Vincent could change, or she wouldn't have tried to get through to him.
While Killian's seen his share of repeat offenders on the job, there must also have been times when someone he'd dealt with had turned their life around. It was ridiculous for him to assume that criminal behavior was just who certain people were.
In reality, people commit crimes for all sorts of reasons. Some are bad people, but just as many are people who are so desperate to survive that they steal food or money. There are also people like Vincent who unthinkingly commit crimes when they see others doing it.
It's not likely that Killian has never run into any type of criminal besides the ones who are purely evil during his career. I was glad that Corrine reminded him that he had changed and needed to trust her judgment.
Hopefully, Corrine is right about Poppas. It would suck if her chef turned out to have dark plans for her. Plus, no one wants to sit through Killian gloating about being right.
Politics reared its ugly head again at the end of the hour.
I wasn't sure why Suarez wanted Regina's name left out of the initiative Sharpe was taking credit for, but I trust Suarez's judgment.
He was also right that Regina's job is political, whether or not she wants it to be. She needs to stay on Sharpe's good side, especially if he becomes mayor.
That doesn't mean she can never stand up to him, but alienating him altogether is probably a bad idea. But can Regina cultivate a positive working relationship with him when he constantly seems to get in her way?
Your turn, East New York fanatics. Hit the big blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know your thoughts!
East New York airs on CBS on Sundays at 9 PM EST / PST.