Jay Landsman (The Wire)

Jay Landsman (The Wire)

Infobox character | name = Jay Landsman

portrayer = Delaney Williams
creator = David Simon
species =
gender = Male
first = "The Target" "(episode 1.01)"
last = "–30–" "(episode 5.10)"
cause = End of series
age = 40s
occupation = Baltimore homicide Sergeant
title = Sergeant
alias =
family =
spouse =
children =
relatives =
footnotes =

Jay Landsman is a fictional character on the HBO drama "The Wire", played by actor Delaney Williams.


Policing Method

Landsman's role in the police department is that of a detective sergeant and he is seen doing more supervision than investigation throughout the series. He is shown dedicated to maintaining an acceptable clearance rate of homicides and is often the mediator between the C.I.D. colonel and his own subordinates. Landsman generally works on behalf of his subordinates especially those who give him the necessary clearances. As a supervisor, Landsman applies pressure from the upper commanders down the line on his unit understanding the department's demands even though in some cases, he does not necessarily agree with specific commanders. This is seen when he is ordered to have Bunk Moreland find a hospitalized detective's firearm and when a dead state's witness becomes an electoral issue in Season 4. Throughout the series, he is shown as a sympathetic commander attempting to find a balance between his loyalty to his subordinates and loyalty to the department's goals. Landsman has only been called to solve a few murders on his own as a supervisor, and was shown treating the criminal suspects with the respect they asked for (He is shown assisting the beatdown of Bird, but is respectful to Ziggy Sobotka and Bubbles). Overall, under Landsman's supervision, the homicide unit shown ends up often clearing more of the challenging "whodunit" Homicides present in Baltimore city proving him to be a relatively competent and likeable sergeant within the department.

eason one

Landsman is a squad sergeant in the homicide division of the Baltimore police department. His commanding officer was originally William Rawls. Landsman's squad consists of several of the shows characters - in season one it comprised Detectives Jimmy McNulty, Bunk Moreland, Michael Santangelo, Ray Cole, Ed Norris and Vernon Holley. Landsman finds the misfortune of the cops in his unit a constant source of amusement but is also protective of them at times. He is loyal to Rawls and also doggedly pursues the high case clearance rates that Rawls aims for but is realistic about the capabilities of his detectives.

When McNulty went around the chain of command and incurred Rawl's wrath by being detailed to another unit Landsman appeared unsympathetic. He insisted that McNulty's work looking at old homicide cases for the detail be put to his advantage to make up for losing a detective. To this end, he insisted that McNulty look into the Deirdre Kresson murder case; McNulty was reluctant because the case appeared unrelated. Landsman was sure a link would be found and his intuition later proved correct. However, Landsman did argue McNulty's case with Rawls and managed to get Rawls to agree that McNulty could return to homicide with a clean slate if the investigation was wrapped up quickly. Despite Landsman's best efforts McNulty remained out of favour with Rawls because he refused to end the case he was working on prematurely.

Landsman always maintained a black and twisted humour about the work of his squad. When Rawls gave Detective Santangelo an ultimatum of clearing a "whodunit" case by days end Landsman recommended a psychic to Santangelo. He claimed that the woman, Madame LaRue, was especially gifted in "matters of death investigation". Santangelo took this advice by burying a doll in a grave awaking later that night to be given evidence in the murder that had occurred. When "Sanny" saw that he had been given information regarding an open homicide, he thanked Landsman who then told him that the Gypsy routine was a joke and that it had been Bunk and McNulty who saved his career.cite web
year = 2004
title = Character profile - Sergeant Jay Landsman
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-07-22
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/jay_landsman.shtml

Landsman's squad handled the case of the killing of Wendell "Orlando" Blocker and wounding of detective Kima Greggs and he was personally involved in the investigation.

eason two

Landsman's squad was altered as Rawls transferred Santangelo and McNulty out of the unit because they had displeased him by working with the Barksdale detail. Lester Freamon returned to homicide after a thirteen year absence and joined Landsman's squad.

When Rawls was forced to take on the multiple homicide case of fourteen unidentified dead women he entrusted it to Landsman. Landsman gave the case to Freamon and Bunk telling them they were his best detectives. When his detectives started working with Cedric Daniels Sobotka detail Landsman saw the potential to offload the responsibility of the case but Daniels initially refused.

Landsman was responsible for the interrogation of Chester "Ziggy" Sobotka after he killed George "Double G" Glekas. Although Ziggy quickly confessed Landsman failed to inform Daniels' specialised detail about the murder in time for them to become involved. Daniels was irate with Landsman for his lack of forethought when it allowed his targets to dispose of evidence at the Glekas crime scene.

eason three

Landsman appeared as a commanding detective of homicide again this season mainly associated with finding the service weapon of Officer Dozerman whose gun was stolen in a failed undercover buy. He had Bunk Moreland look for the gun pressuring him intensely until Bunk wrote a ten page report stating how unproductive the investigation became. Bunk claimed that he had more important things to do as he was a murder investigator and the city's homicide rate was rising. Landsman delivers the eulogy at the Detective's Wake held for Ray Cole after his sudden death.

Landsman later appeared following the death of officer Derrick Waggoner, an African American plainclothes officer accidentally killed by Detective Prezbylewski who had mistaken him for a criminal. Landsman was personally angry at the death referring to it as a "clusterfuck" as the officer murdered was a six and a half year veteran who was 16th on the current seargent's list with two recommendations while Prez was known for his incompetence and still in the department all due to his father in law Stan Valchek, the Southeastern district commander.

eason four

Landsman is not above getting involved in politics. When his detective Ed Norris informs him that he is investigating the murder of a state's witness Landsman passes the knowledge on to Major Valchek in secret. Valchek leaks the information to Tommy Carcetti who uses it against the current mayor in a key debate.

Landsman's squad is boosted by the return of Lester Freamon and the addition of Kima Greggs when a new unit commander drives them out of the major case unit. Landsman and his detectives constantly tease Greggs when she first joins the unit. Political pressure forces Landsman to assign Greggs to the witness murder instead of Norris. When this information is leaked to the press Landsman attends a press conference with Greggs and Norris to diffuse the story by claiming that they were working it together. Greggs feels used by her superiors and this creates friction between her and Landsman. Landsman is forced to intercede in the investigation a second time when Norris threatens to break the case on the eve of the election. Rawls tells him that whatever the outcome of the case one of the candidates will be put out and it is better to leave it pending until after the election. Landsman is told to reassign Greggs and Norris to polling station duty for the day to prevent progress in their investigation.

cite web
year = 2004
title = Org Chart - The Law
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-07-22
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/orgchart/law.shtml

After the election, Greggs solves the Braddock case which tends to provide less leads than were initially given and she gains Landsman's respect in the process. Landsman then is seen delivering the eulogy for Colonel Foerester whom he claimed had a miraculous career serving 39 years without a trace of bitterness or hostility, a rarity in the Baltimore Police Department. Landsman is then seen criticizing Detective Moreland for reversing one of Detective Holley's clearances as he is against cases going from "black to red". Following Foerester's death, Cedric Daniels is named C.I.D. colonel and allocates more resource to the investigative divisions to allow for more quality investigations at the orders of Mayor elect Tommy Carcetti. Landsman then witnesses Detective Lester Freamon discovering dead bodies in abandoned houses and is initially against their discovery for the purpose of raising the city's homicide rate. When more bodies are discovered, Landsman realizes the squad will be unable to maintain an acceptable clearance rate and becomes less concerned about the department's numbers. Landsman finally sees Bubbles turn himself in for murder of a teenager and after hearing that the death was accidental decides not to press homicide charges sending him to a psychiatric unit at Bayview instead.


The character is based on and named after a real homicide detective sergeant whom David Simon had met while researching the book . The character is often given dialogue that the writers recall the real Landsman using. Delaney Williams was chosen for the part because of the creators' experience of working with him in small roles on "Homicide" and "The Corner".cite video
people = David Simon
year = 2005
title = "The Wire" "The Target" commentary track
medium = DVD
location =
publisher = HBO
] The real Jay Landsman can also be seen on "The Wire" in the role of Dennis Mello, first in an uncredited appearance in the season 2 episode "Stray Rounds", and starting with season 3 as a regular cast member.

Among the discrepancies between the character on The Wire and the real Jay Landsman, the most prominent is their physique: the real Landsman was the least overweight sergeant in the homicide squad, [cite book |last=Simon |first=David |title= |origyear=1991 |edition=4th |year=2006 |publisher=Owl Books |isbn=0-8050-8075-9 |page=85 |chapter=One |quote=Other sergeants in the homicide unit might resemble grocers who consumed too much of the profits, but at an inch over six feet, Landsman still looked like a street police] while The Wire's version is one of the more heavyset officers on the force, often referred to as "Fat Man." Also, though, according to , the real Landsman is Jewish, [cite book |last=Simon |first=David |title= |origyear=1991 |edition=4th |year=2006 |publisher=Owl Books |isbn=0-8050-8075-9 |page=85 |chapter=One |quote=His father had retired with a lieutenant's rank as acting commander of the Northwestern district, the first Jewish officer to rise to a district command on a predominantly Irish force ] this remains mute in the series.


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