'Chicago P.D.' Will Address Police Brutality and Racism in Season 8, Jason Beghe Says

Most of the crime procedurals that dominate primetime television schedules will deal with police brutality and racism when they finally return next month, including Chicago P.D. Jason Beghe, who has starred as Detective Sergeant Hank Voight since the show launched in 2014, said the issues sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the Black Lives Matter movement will be handled in the upcoming eighth season. Chicago P.D. will finally be back on NBC on Wednesday, Nov. 11, along with Chicago Fire and Chicago Med.

"I think we feel a certain sense of responsibility to address these issues, which is fun and challenging. Thankfully we have some good writers and good advisers," Beghe explained in discussion with FBI actor Julian McMahon for Wolf Entertainment's YouTube channel. "I’m really proud of our first scripts, I hope they’re not only entertaining. We’re trying, without being grandiose, to be useful." Beghe said the extra time between the Season 7 finale and filming on Season 8 gave the cast and writers more time to have conversations with each other, advisors and police officers on how to address these issues on television.

Beghe said there is a "perfect segue" from the unintended Season 7 finale, where a police officer profiled a young Black man, and the Season 8 premiere, reports Deadline. In the new episodes, the show will pick up from there and "drawing out the bigger things," Beghe said. The actor is also interested in seeing how Voight's character exists in the new atmosphere. "So it’s fun, but it’s a responsibility. There may be people who are offended, there may be new fans," he explained, adding that the show is "going in both barrels blazing."

The new season will also involve a police reform storyline, as former Empire star Ari Parker was cast as Deputy Superintendent Samantha Miller last week, reports TVLine. The character moves to Chicago from Atlanta and is a supporter of "progressive" police reform. Miller aims to help Voight and his Intelligence unit adapt to a changing reality, but will not accept any violations of the new guidelines she puts in place. While Parker is joining the cast, Lisseth Chavez, who starred as officer Vaness Rojas, left the show to star as Esperanza "Spooner" Cruz on The CW's Legends of Tomorrow.

Chicago P.D. is not the only crime drama looking to make changes after the protests over the summer. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit showrunner Warren Leight said the show's characters would find themselves in a New York City that is a little different. The city is "struggling to return from a harrowing pandemic and months of demonstrations and political fallout after George Floyd... a city that has lost faith in the NYPD and the DA's office," he told TV Insider earlier this month.