There are detectives who do their jobs and move on to the next case. And then there are the Det. James 'Jimmy' McNultys who not only complete cases but sit right in the courtroom to make absolutely certain that criminals do prison time -- even if the cases aren't their own. From the first episode, McNulty (played by Dominic West) was introduced sitting on a curb talking about Snot Boogie for repeatedly stealing money during street gambling. One scene later and he's eyeing both D'Angelo Barksdale (played by Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) and Russell 'Stringer' Bell (played by Idris Elba) in another detective Barlowe's case against Barksdale.
Considering McNulty managed to piss off everyone, including his own boss Lt. Cedric Daniels (played by Lance Reddick), for trying to get to the bottom of cases, the police and government officials seemed to be the only ones surprised that McNulty would go to such lengths to put Marlo Stanfield (played by Jamie Hector) in prison. Although it was a bit low to use a homeless man (in Season 5) as bait to find a made-up serial killer, but homeless men were indeed dying and the idea of finding their killers was met with complete indifference. Combine a few more killers. Make them white. Merge them with the people Marlo's crew was responsible for killing. And voila! The mayor now has money to pay detectives for overtime and McNulty uses the extra detectives, cameras and income to go back to fighting crime against black men.
"The Wire" writers showed the parallels between snitching within the police department and on the streets, and it was no accident that reporting a peer was frowned on. But was Detective Shakima 'Kima' Greggs (played by Sonja Sohn) really justified in telling what McNulty did? It certainly cost tax payers money to have helicopters and an entire squad looking out for a cell phone from a killer who'd never made himself public. And the mayor was taking a beating from the public, newspapers and other officials for the homeless serial killer on the loose.
But as a cop who seemed just as disgusted by drug dealers and murderers, it seemed odd that Kima would go so far as to report McNulty to Lt. Daniels. Growling at McNulty in an investigation room the way Det. William 'Bunk' Moreland (played by Wendell Pierce) did made a bit more sense. Is McNulty manipulative? Yes. Did he lie? Yes. Did he gamble his way into more money? Yes.
But sometimes there are justified reasons to avoid snitching when a bigger issue exists. The no-snitching policy between the Black Panthers and the FBI is a prime example of that, although criminals used it to their advantage later on down the line to do the worst dirt. But in the case of McNulty, had he not stepped up to the plate and stood up for dead men in abandoned houses, they'd still be rotting away while Kima trotted around solving cases she didn't care about and trying to rekindle a relationship that she'd shot down herself.
As someone who thinks current day no-snitching is counterproductive and hurts a society, it's impossible not to take McNulty's side on this one.
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