CRACKING THE CHICAGO CODE Interview with Detective John Folino, Technical Advisor on THE CHICAGO CODE

Philanthropy has its benefits, well at least for Chicago Police Detective (and WTA member!) John Folino, who landed the job of Technical Advisor on The Chicago Code after successfully bidding on a silent auction prize at a fundraising event for Officer Michael Gordon. Folino, a 12 year veteran of the CPD, currently a homicide detective assigned to Area 5, discusses how he became The Chicago Code consultant and his experiences on set.

How did you get involved with The Chicago Code?
I became involved with The Chicago Code based on a very unfortunate incident.  Chicago Police Officer Michael Gordon was killed in the Line of Duty in 2004.  I became a big supporter of the Michael P. Gordon Foundation ( http://www.michaelpgordon.org/ ) where I eventually became a judge for their annual award ceremony; The True Blue Awards.  At the awards ceremony, I bid on a silent auction item which was a Walk-On Role to THE SHIELD. 

At the time, The Shield was my favorite show and I saw a great opportunity to donate a significant amount of money to the foundation and also have an opportunity to head to Hollywood for a couple days.  So in 2007, which was the FINAL season of The Shield, I headed west.  I ended up on the set of The Shield and immediately met with the Strike Team!  Also, for this episode Michael Chiklis (Det. Vic Mackey) was the director of the episode so I was able to spend the entire day hanging-out with him and his Strike Team.  I spent (13) hours on-set just talking with all the cast and crew.  They had so many questions upon finding out I was with the CPD.  I brought along a huge duffel bag of CPD gear (hats, pins, patches, shirts, etc) for the cast and crew; they all loved the gear!  I then had the opportunity to meet the creator and Executive Producer of The Shield, Shawn Ryan, who was a native of Rockford, IL.  Shawn and I spoke briefly; I gave him some CPD gear and also my business card if he ever needed anything in Chicago. 

About a year and a half later, I received a call from Shawn Ryan who said he wanted to meet with me to talk about the Chicago Police Department.  Shawn flew to Chicago; I took him on a "ride-along" where he asked me hundreds of questions about the CPD, my personal and professional life along with those of my co-workers and family.  About a month or so after the "ride-along," Shawn called me and told me he was emailing a "Top-Secret" document where he told me to review it and send back my honest opinion(s); it was the script to the Pilot episode of then "Ride-Along" and now The Chicago Code.  I responded back with pages of notes, Shawn and I spoke back and forth a couple times and he called again and said Fox just gave him the "green light" to film the Pilot!  Shawn then asked if I was interested in being his Technical Advisor / Consultant for the show....and the rest is HISTORY!

 I have heard you say how you corrected the use of the term “perp” – a NYPD thing – what are some other common misconceptions that you were able to correct?
The use of "perp" was one correction and another was "Precinct" instead of District regarding our police stations.  Another term which needed to be changed was "bull-pen," the writer(s) and executives would refer to the floor area of the detective division as the "bull-pen" where in Chicago we know the "Bull-Pen" is a jail term where offenders are held awaiting their placement in various divisions of the Cook County Jail.  The acronym "APB" for All Points Bulletin was in a couple scripts which we do NOT use in Chicago, we use All Call instead. 

The director has said that he took “creative license” on some scenes, is there anything that you fought strongly to keep totally (or mostly) accurate?

Yes, the old "creative license!"  Ha.  Well, I fought "pretty" hard in the Pilot episode where the offender pointed the gun at Det. Jerek Wysocki.  In reality ANY law enforcement officer would NEVER have allowed or have been part of that!  After the Pilot, I met with many people to discuss this and you will NOT see that in any of the remaining episodes of Season One.  There was another time where evidence was placed into a plastic bag instead of a paper bag.  I understood the "big picture" and realized the audience needed to see what was in the bag! 

And regarding the "big picture," I realized this is NOT a CPD reality show; it is a drama on Fox, it is ENTERTAINMENT!  I'm also just an advisor, I advise them on the proper way it should be done and they make the final decision to love it or leave it!  I would have to estimate the directors and executive producers take about 80%-85% of what I advise to heart and the remaining is done under the "creative license!"  Finally, The Chicago Code was filmed every Monday - Friday from approximately 6am to 8pm, I was NOT on the set 100% of the time because I still currently am a full-time active Detective with the CPD, so there were additional "creative licenses" taken due to me NOT being there.

What was your favorite thing about working on this show?
My favorite part of working on the show was being able to get (114) different Chicago Police Officers into various scenes.  It made me very proud to be part of that and see my co-workers, friends and brother in the show.  I would say another favorite thing was being able to film 100% in Chicago!  We spent a lot of time in Austin (15th District) filming where I spent the first (5) years of my career and still conduct investigations in that area.  So it was pretty cool to be filming on a block or in a house where I was at the same location but in my "real" CPD role!

So I have to ask, where did the whole “Irish Mob” concept come from?
The Irish Mob came from Shawn Ryan and his writing team.  Shawn RYAN is Irish, Chicago has a lot of Irish and so many shows are always talking about the Italians in regards to the "mob."  So Shawn and the team decided to mix it up and create the Irish Mob.  There is no Irish Mob I've personally investigated in my (12) years with the CPD in Chicago, but who knows!  And remember, this is television; anything can be created! 
 

What can you tell us about the upcoming episodes?
What can I tell you about the upcoming episodes.....Hmmmmm?  First and most importantly; BE SURE TO WATCH THE EPISODES EVERY MONDAY NIGHT AT 8pm ON FOX!  Next, I can tell you the CPD will be very proud of some of the specific lines of the casts and the story lines as a whole.  There are many episodes based on my personal experiences along with those of my friends and co-workers.  Everyone on the entire writing staff came to Chicago to meet with me.  I then sent them across the city on various "ride-alongs" with P.O.'s, Det's, Sgt's, and Lt's who were able to offer some of their own personal and professional experiences.  So again, what I can say about the upcoming episodes is that the audience will love how each and every character is portrayed in the show!  Each of them brings a little something to the table in which the CPD and the law enforcement community as a whole will be proud. 
 

Will there be a Season 2?
Regarding Season 2; the FINAL decision has NOT been made yet.  This should happen somewhere around the end of February 2011.  We have a total of (13) episodes in Season 1 and need to see if there is a following of The Chicago Code first before a decision on Season 2 is made.  If we are lucky enough to get a Season 2, it would be a minimum of (20) - (24) episodes!

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Comment by Magnum USA on February 21, 2011 at 12:02pm
Awesome interview!
Comment by John M. Wills on February 21, 2011 at 6:49am

Great interview, very informative. Thank you so much. I am religiously following the show since I've created my own series of novels based on my 12 years on the job. Chicago Warriors Thriller series will have it's newest novel, TARGETED, released March 1st.

John M. Wills

Comment by Assata on February 20, 2011 at 8:15pm
Nice!

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