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TV Recap: Steven Seagal Lawman – “Narc Force”

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This week’s show starts by telling us more about Steven Seagal’s law enforcement "experience." We learn that Mr. Seagal trained the local SWAT team in sniping, small arms, weapons retention, and hand-to-hand combat. Heck, they even show a black-and-white photo montage of a much younger Seagal holding weapons and applying aikido wrist locks to SWAT team members, so it must be true — right?

Well, perhaps.

Most private security companies, correctional agencies, and law enforcement agencies will have certified trainers conduct their training. In fact, the majority of these experts come from within the agency or from other certified agencies. This is even doubly true when the agency is funded by state or local tax dollars. For example, police officers receive certification from a training academy. Later on, if they wish to specialize and become experts, they are usually afforded additional opportunities for training from within the department, or the chance to apply for specialized teams like SWAT. Eventually, after many years, that new recruit can become a certified trainer for the department or even for the local law enforcement academy. Why is it typically done this way? One answer: lawsuits.

To belabor my point, here is an excerpt from the Louisiana Peace Officer Standards and Training Council website:

"Law Enforcement Training Course" means a basic or advanced course of study certified by the Council for the purpose of educating and training persons in the skills and techniques required of a peace officer in the discharge of his duties.

"Training Center" means any POST accredited school, academy, institute, or any place of learning whatsoever, which offers or conducts a law enforcement or corrections training course.

So, if your tax-funded local police department receives its training from the “Billy Bob School of Self-defense” and an officer accidentally uses excessive force on a suspect, shoots an innocent person, or tries a Chuck Norris karate kick through a car window, I can guarantee you that the lawsuits will fly faster than a Steven Seagal movie makes it to DVD.

Is it possible that a police department might bring a self-defense expert like Seagal in for some supplemental hand-to-hand combat training? Yes. Will that training supersede law enforcement academy training that is built around a use-of-force continuum? I sure hope not! Then again, perhaps they do things differently down in New Orleans?

As for the rest, well, even if Seagal is a certified weapons expert (credentials, please?) it is still a legal risk to have him be the sole trainer of the SWAT team. The truth of the matter is that the SWAT team in this week’s episode probably received their training from department certified trainers. At least, for the sake of Jefferson Parish, I sure hope they did!

Here again we have an example of the producers of Lawman "embellishing" Seagal’s credentials for the sake of “reality” television. I could, however, be wrong and there is a very easy way to silence my criticism — provide all of Mr. Seagal’s law enforcement-related credentials and certifications to the press.

Ah, but this is not why you are reading this recap, is it? You don't want reality. You probably want to know what our action hero did in this week's show. So, let’s get on with it!

After the “Steven Seagal is a SWAT expert” montage we are treated to a SWAT team practice. Here the team rehearses vehicle extraction skills for a police outreach event called “Day in the Park.” This event allows the police to network with the community and also demonstrates their skills. The SWAT footage segues into Col. John Fortunato’s roll call briefing. Here we learn that this week’s theme is narcotics. Better still, Mr. Seagal gets to participate in a major drug sting. Soon Seagal and a dozen or so officers take down several suspects. During the drug bust one suspect comments, "This is my first time going to jail, Mr. Stallone."

After the drug bust "Mr. Stallone" is back on the street patrolling a very bad neighborhood. Soon Seagal quips, “Let me just look at these here for a second.” By now we should all know what that means — we are about to see the Steven Seagal slow motion Zen bionic eye! "They ain’t nothing wrong with him," declares Seagal. Soon another officer spots some suspicious activity. This time the suspect runs into someone’s house. Once again we are briefly treated to Seagal scanning the house with his magic orb. However, despite Segal’s ocular prowess, the suspect escapes.

Next up is a suspicious traffic stop. These suspects are eventually cleared of their suspicious activity. However, the best part of this scene is another Lawman staple: Someone having an “oh my God it’s Steven Seagal” moment.

“Mr. Steven Seagal, I love your movies. I want your autograph!” exclaims the awe-struck suspect.

After the suspects are cleared, Seagal invites the enamored fan to the aforementioned “Day in the Park” event. There Steven Seagal promises to give that fan his autograph. This interaction prompts Col. John Fortunato to comment, “There are times when Steven’s fame becomes a distraction. But he knows how to use it to our advantage.”

Indeed. He also knows how to use it to his advantage.

The episode ends with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office “Day in the Park” community outreach event. Just like a Steven Seagal movie, Seagal gets to dress up like a SWAT team member and partake in a role play demonstration of tactical skills. The scene: extract an armed individual from his car. The equipment: a SWAT helicopter and an armored SWAT van. Thankfully — and probably due to the fear of Seagal falling out of the helicopter and landing on some poor citizen — they kept our hero confined to the van extraction team. The scene closes with Seagal commenting on how this event helps to convince kids to stay straight.

All I can say is if “Mr. Stallone” can’t convince troubled youth to stay on the path of righteousness, then nobody can!

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