Fans of the The Wire, buckle up. The new series We Own This City, which premiered Monday night on HBO, is almost a sequel. It comes from The Wire creator David Simon, and it’s set back in Baltimore, this time focusing on the true story of the Baltimore Police Department’s elite Gun Trace Task Force, and the corruption scandal that grew out of it.

The story wasn’t a complete surprise to Simon, who tells ABC Audio, “The idea that it would get to this dystopian point where you literally have a heralded police unit that was…robbing regular people of money and robbing drug dealers of drugs and then selling the drugs back on the street…was a generation removed from where we were in The Wire, but it was in some respects where we were headed.”

We Own This City comes at a time where stories about police are being looked at a lot closer, but Simon says this series is about truth, not slogans.

“This is a bad, systemic dynamic. [It’s] a mission that can’t possibly succeed. It can only destroy anything it touches. That’s not covered by all cops are bastards,” he explains. “Nor do you get at it in any way if you decide that police have to be defended…that failure to do so makes you soft on crime.”

Jon Bernthal plays the unit’s ringleader Wayne Jenkins, who is currently in prison. He was able to do ride-alongs with the Baltimore PD and talk to a lot of officers while preparing for the role because of what he calls “the respect and reverence [The Wire] creators have for telling the truth…not to make it just one side or the other, but to tell the truth…That what they’re after.”  

(Trailer contains uncensored profanity.)

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