NASHVILLE, Tenn.- A CBS spokesperson has confirmed that Sunday's night episode of The Good Wife was partly based on NewsChannel 5's "Policing for Profit" investigation.
One element of the plot involved a traffic stop in which a sheriff's deputy pulled over a vehicle driven by Alicia Florrick's son. The officer then fabricated a reason for searching the vehicle, apparently in hopes of seizing it.
During a critical courtroom scene, Alicia charged that local authorities "make their money from the war on drugs by illegally impounding cars and cash."
Played by actress Julianna Margulies, Florrick then confronted the state's attorney with evidence that 90 percent of the agency's traffic stops occur on the side of the interstate where traffickers are most likely traveling with the money after dropping off the drugs.
"They're not trying to stop drugs," Alicia told the judge. "They are trying to confiscate the money made from these drug sales."
An exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation uncovered a pervasive pattern of Tennessee police stopping out-of-state drivers and taking their cash based on the suspicion that it was drug money.
That investigation discovered that, in a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 40 west of Nashville, interdiction officers made 10 times as many stops on what cops call the "money side" of the highway.
"It looks like that they are not concerned about stopping the drugs, they just want the money," NewsChannel 5 chief investigative reporter Phil Williams said during an interview with one police official.
A CBS spokesperson told NewsChannel 5 that the show's co-creator Robert King "confirmed that the investigation did have an influence on the episode content from last night. In fact, Robert said it was one of the best series he had ever seen."
That "Policing for Profit" investigation has sparked a debate in the Tennessee legislature about possible reforms. As a resultof the reports, the NewsChannel 5 Investigates team was honored this year with one of broadcasting's highest honors, the duPont-Columbia University Award.