Over the course of five seasons on HBO’s The Wire (available to stream anytime on HBO Now), William Rawls (John Doman) may have moved up in rank, but he loomed large in his perpetual authority over the murder police that were under his command in the early going. Rawls was a hard-nosed, tough-talking, high-ranking member of the Baltimore Police Department who prided himself on being the kind of cop who did one thing best, and that was follow orders. A company man through-and-through, he never once bothered to waffle around his point, no matter how severe. So, the next time you feel like you’re having a tough time dealing with your boss, let these scathing quotes from Rawls remind you that things might not be so bad.
“These are for you, McNulty.”
Rawls was very conscious of the chain of command. To those who didn’t abide it and, say, went behind his back to a judge with information on who was running the drug trade in west Baltimore, as McNulty does in the first episode, Rawls is going to have a few things to say. And while we’ve all had moments where we get a bit of a dressing down from a superior, Rawls would not only promise to make your life miserable, but he’d start acting on that promise right away.
“He quits or he drowns. That’s the only two things getting him off the f*cking boat so help me God.”
Never one to yield on his promise even a little bit, Rawls was predictably blunt when offering up the two ways he’d be willing to let McNulty off the police boat he’d banished him to after bringing in Avon Barksdale. No matter how tough your toughest boss was, the amount of commitment Rawls puts into holding a grudge is unmatched.
“When I f*ck you over, you’ll know it. You’ll be so goddamn certain, you won’t need to ask the question.”
Proving that Rawls’ venomous attitude wasn’t only targeted at McNulty — though he did get more than his fair share of it — Detective Freamon (Clarke Peters) learns what happens when he qustions an order: Rawls makes it clear that his decisions are absolute and unquestionable. Also, if you ever have a boss who straight-up guarantees that they will, at some point, ‘f*ck you over,’ it’s probably time to start hitting up those help wanted posts on Craigslist.
“This is not on you… and the motherf*cker saying this, he hates your guts, McNulty. So you know if it was on you, I’d be the son of a b*tch to say so.”
Clearly, Rawls was never one to mince words, and even when he takes McNulty aside to comfort him after their fellow officer, Lt. Greggs (Sonja Sohn) gets shot in a sting gone wrong, he’s quick to remind McNulty just how much he hates him. Again, this is Rawls comforting someone. I suppose you could find solace in knowing that the guy that hates you the most is actually taking the time to give you some perspective, though you’d probably consider it a cold comfort at best.
“What I got instead is some half-assed ‘I wish we were doing better’ platitude that’s meant to fool a 6-year-old girl into thinking you’re doing your job.”
Another example of a non-McNulty officer taking the heat from Rawls for a change. Here, newly appointed Sergeant ‘Bunny’ Colvin (Robert Wisdom) fails to deliver statistics that are to Rawls’ liking. The only thing that makes this vicious verbal assault by Rawls any worse is at the very end, when Acting Commissioner Burrell (Frankie Faison) scornfully adds that, “this is Baltimore, the gods will not save you.” Honestly, who wouldn’t go home and update their resume in-between fits of crying after getting a speech like that?
“The longer this goes on, the worse the payback’s gonna be.”
It’s one thing to be fired, (and let’s face it, getting fired almost always sucks) but it’s another thing to be drummed out of a job with a fiery vengeance by the man who wanted your head on a platter for years on end. And when Greggs blows the lid off McNulty’s elaborate case-rigging scheme, he gets called into an interrogation room for one last berating by Rawls. While he’s joined by Lt. Daniels (Lance Reddick), it’s Rawls who does the talking, and he takes all his years worth of frustration with him and, like always, lets McNulty have it with an eerie calm. This is one of those situations where finding a new job probably won’t be enough. You may as well just flee the city in the dead of night and hope for the best.