'We Own This City': Here's What Happened to Wayne Jenkins

The Wire creator David Simon has returned to HBO with a brand new series, We Own This City. The show centers on the 2017 scandal involving the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF). Simon wrote and developed the series along with George Pelecanos. King Richard director Reinaldo Marcus Green directed all six episodes.

Since the show is based on a true story, here’s what happened to GTTF ring leader Wayne Jenkins (Jon Bernthal).

HBO’s ‘We Own The City’ is based on a true story

Back in 2017 in a post-Freddie Gray Baltimore, the entire police department blew up amid a massive scandal that involved the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF). The force consisted of eight different officers, who for years had essentially been robbing the city and its citizens.

“At the time of the GTTF scandal in 2017, though there were numerous indications of corruption within several plainclothes units going back almost a decade, Baltimore police commanders held to the belief that any street unit that could bring in guns and drugs consistently had to be championed and protected,” HBO said in a statement. “WE OWN THIS CITY depicts the inevitable corruption of a unit given this carte blanche.”

In 2021, Baltimore Sun reporter, Justin Fenton wrote a book about the scandal titled, We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops, and Corruption.

What happened to Wayne Jenkins in real life?

According to TIME Magazine, it is believed that during their reign the GTTF stole a minimum of $300,000. This included 43 pounds of marijuana, 800 grams of heroin, three kilos of cocaine, and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. Though other officers were charged and convicted of these crimes, Jenkins was seen as the ring-leader.

He pled guilty to charges of racketeering, robbery, and falsification of records. In the end, he received a 25-year-prison sentence, that he is currently serving out.

“The aftershocks of the GTTF scandal continue to be felt to this day,” a 2016 Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation states. “Officers not directly associated with the GTTF have been charged and convicted in connection with events that occurred more than a decade ago. It took decades for the cancer of corruption revealed in the GTTF scandal to spread as widely as it did and to sink its roots so deeply into BPD; it will take years for BPD to demonstrate, in both words and deeds, that it has zero-tolerance for corruption and misconduct.”

Jon Bernthal portrays Wayne Jenkins in ‘We Own This City’

Fans know Bernthal’s face from everything from Many Saints of Newark to The Punisher. He seemed then, to be the perfect fit to portray Jenkins. “Wayne is a good example where I’m all the way in, and I have no shame in that,” the actor told The Guardian.

Bernthal also shared some ideas about why policing isn’t working as it should in this country. “The police need to have culpability for their actions,” he said. “What I hear from police officers is that the biggest problem with policing is there’s been this culture of refusing to admit you’re wrong, standing by each other, not pointing out flaws. I think that we have burst through that.”

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