Embedded: An NPR Podcast That May Convince You To #Defundthepolice
A Review for Great Pods!
Welcome to the Thunderdome!
If this is the first time you’ve checked out my reviews, then welcome. For everyone else, you know I normally review independent podcasts, and only stray from that when there’s a podcast that really sticks with me. This week’s review falls into that second category.
In an age where too often the topics I care about are under or misreported by many in what is sometimes called the ‘mainstream media’, one outlet has clearly risen above the rest. From their daily reporting to their podcasts, NPR is, in this reviewer’s humble opinion, the gold star in journalism.
Personally, I love so many of their podcasts (and probably will break my ‘only indies’ rule again in the future to review another), but this week I turned my reviewer’s ear to Embedded. Hosted by Kelly McEvers, a two-time Peabody Award winner and former host of probably the best news program in the world, All Things Considered, Embedded is a sort of conglomerate podcast tying in a host of different long-form documentaries under one podcast umbrella.
Ok, that was confusing even to me so let me explain a bit more. What Kelly and her team do with Embedded is choose a topic then spend months digging into that topic like any other docuseries. What’s different is, in effect, Embedded doesn’t have seasons but instead a diverse continuation of series. For example, probably their most famous series was called On Our Watch (already reviewed on Great Pods!) a partnership with other producers about police misconduct investigations.
In their latest, called Changing The Police, they’re taking a bit of a different look at law enforcement. To paraphrase the show’s description, while many have called for defunding or outright abolishing the police, municipalities have taken the more moderate approach of reform. But that term is a large bucket that encompasses multiple different modulations of action. So Kelly and her team embedded (see what I did there?) with the Yonkers Police Department to give listeners an inside listen on what policing in the post-BLM Movement world looks like and, if reform is even possible, how it can be done.
As always, I try to identify any caveats I have to give in reviews and get them out of the way. So here is my caveat with this review; I am an out and proud #defundthepolice supporter. As a person with lived experience with drug use and substance misuse, I’ve seen how police are not the answer firsthand and have been treated poorly by law enforcement for simply living. As a person who works in the drug use and addiction space, one that overlaps heavily with social and criminal justice movements as well as anti-racism work, I fully support a future that doesn’t use armed response as an end all be all solution to literally everything. In fact, many of my company’s merch items include slogans on these topics, including one that says “Don’t Trust Cops Or Copaganda” (you can see all my merch at my Teepublic store).
All of that being said, I actually found the first couple of episodes in this series interesting yet maddening. Quite frankly, I thought they weren’t going far enough in pushing back on the B.S. we typically hear from the police (again, copaganda). Frankly, anyone with half a brain can usually say “well, clearly, that’s not true” when cops talk but members in the media try to both-sides the issue and give outright lies airtime because they came from law enforcement. And I hate that shit. Anyway, then came their latest episode, To Police or Not To Police. Which, and I don’t use this world lightly, was damn near perfect.
This particular episode explores a topic that deserves much more focus; that being the illogical issue of our society using police as a response for issues they not only aren’t trained to handle (mental and other health issues, non-violent disputes etc.) and how some municipalities are finally responding to this obvious oversight by training other first responders instead, a move, sadly, many police and police unions oppose over funding concerns and, too often, a desire to present the world as ten times scarier than it actually is. But I digress.
People who think like I do, that this country has a police problem that throwing more and more money at can’t and won’t solve, are sadly not the majority. But we are nowhere near the extreme minority that many in the, again I hate using this phrase, mainstream media would have you believe. It isn’t often that I hear views like mine expressed outside of the publications and outlets that I respect (looking at you, Filter Mag, Marshall Project, Vice sometimes but I won’t link them because they get enough love already, etc.), so hearing people question what to me seems obvious but, sadly, for too many seems radical, it means a lot, akin to finding out that maybe that weird kink you’re into isn’t actually so weird at all but everyone else is just to ashamed to talk about it. And I appreciate Kelly and her team so much for that freedom.
I give the show a solid 9/10 and encourage you all to listen!
You can check out Embedded at NPR or on Great Pods.