The Wire
The Wire

Clarence V. Royce is the former mayor of Baltimore City.



Mayor of Baltimore Clarence V. Royce is a deft political figure and is fixated on remaining in power. Royce is the incumbent Mayor of Baltimore who was elected into office in 2002 and is in the process of seeking re-election. He is ably advised by his chief of staff Coleman Parker and also takes counsel from State Delegate Odell Watkins. Royce values loyalty amongst his people and aims to reward it whenever it will not hurt his position to do so. He appointed Ervin Burrell as acting commissioner following the retirement of Warren Frazier.

Season 3

Royce first appears at the demolition of the Franklin Terrace housing projects as a means of demonstrating reform throughout Baltimore. With a new election approaching, Royce's advisor and chief of staff Coleman Parker notices the ambitions of first district councilman Tommy Carcetti who has been criticizing police commissioner Ervin Burrell at the public safety meetings over Baltimore's crime rate. Parker explains that as Carcetti's district is getting it's share of funding and political influence, he must be planning a run against Royce for Mayor. Royce initially scoffs at the idea of Carcetti becoming mayor due to his race in majority African American Baltimore claiming he is in the wrong town to run for mayor.

It is sensed however that Carcetti will most likely exploit the crime figures that have increased under Royce's administration. Seeing that this will be Carcetti's campaign foundation and that Royce's administration is unable to find support from Carcetti's district (Carcetti represents the first district, a district comprised of white ethnics who have a history for voting against Baltimore's African American politicians), Royce calls on Commissioner Burrell to reduce the felony rate citywide. Royce orders the police department to reduce felonies by a minimum of 5% in each district and keep the murder rate below 275 for the year in order to counter Carcetti's campaign. When crime rates begin to rise Royce is urged to sack Burrell by Parker and State Delegate Odell Watkins but is reluctant to do so because of his loyalty. Burrell is in the meantime critical of State's Attorney Demper whom he blames for the lack of casework going through the courthouse. Demper is supported for his loyalty to Royce but is not well regarded by Watkins who views him as being more interested in his elected position than the pursuit of justice. When Watkins mentors Marla Daniels to take the seat of Royce council loyalist Eunetta Perkins in the eleventh district, Royce responds by holding up her husband's promotion and supporting Perkins.

Royce's propensity to put the stability of his own position ahead of the needs of the city creates political enemies for him. Tommy Carcetti seizes on Royce's unwillingness to entertain diverting funds into a witness protection scheme as a reason to criticize their administration drawing the support of African American politicians such as Odell Watkins in the process. Councilman Tony Gray, an African American ally to Carcetti also decides to run against Royce on the platform of education reform. Gray initially suggests that Carcetti run as his vice mayor as he feels that is the safest choice for Carcetti given Baltimore's African American majority. Carcetti however is advised by Theresa D'Agostino, his professional campaign fixer to have Gray and Royce both remain in the race as a means of diverting the city's African American votes.

When drug tolerant zones set up by police district commander Howard "Bunny" Colvin were exposed in Western Baltimore, Royce is urged by Parker to fire Burrell immediately. Seeing the drop in crime citywide, Royce considered keeping them running under a different name as a means of finding a middle ground in what had happened. Parker realized that it would be a disaster to support them despite this along with Delegate Watkins. Watkins warns Royce of the lack of support from both the ministers and city council members and how the government on local, state, and federal levels would use the opportunity to "piss on the city from a great height." Royce continued to entertain the idea of extending the experiment under a different name with support from States Attorney Steven Demper and several public health officials. Burrell in the meantime feared Royce was using this disaster to put the department's commanders in the "guillotine" and decided to go to Tommy Carcetti as a means of alerting the media to the drug sanctioned zones. After the press got wind of "Hamsterdam", Royce saw the error of his ways and with Parker threatened Burrell for the fallout. However Burrell turned Royce's hesitation to his advantage by threatening to expose the Mayor's consideration of the project with the help of his "liberal do-gooders" and his orders to "juke the stats" in the department for re-election purposes as a means of keeping his job. Burrell then offered an alternative to grant him a full term as police commissioner- he would offer Colvin as the scapegoat for Hamsterdam taking the rest of the blame on the department preventing City Hall from finding out any additional facts pretaining to Royce's consideration of the drug sanctioned zones. Needing Burrell to buffer between the city council members and the Mayor's office, Royce complied with Burrell, granting him his term as commissioner against Watkins' wishes. Parker and Royce however secretly agree to fire Burrell once they win re-election.

Season 4

Royce's election campaign is a well-oiled machine. Parker is an effective fundraiser and Royce is booked into many high profile speaking opportunities with property developers to push his motto of reform and development. Royce receives massive contributions and fundraising help from developer Andy Krawczyk. Royce retains state senator Clay Davis as his deputy campaign chairman. Royce is given more reason to be displeased with Burrell when these key political figures's records are subpoenaed by the police department's major case unit.[1] Davis in particular is outraged and visits Royce personally to tell him that he never asks where his money comes from suggesting that it is potentially corrupt coming out of West Baltimore in a large amount. He warns Royce though to protect him if he wants funding for the campaign to come from Davis. Royce then displays this anger to Burrell who then assures that there will be no more surprises within his department.

Royce has an adulterous relationship with a female assistant. He is caught receiving oral sex in his office by one of his security detail, Thomas "Herc" Hauk. He later checks with Parker who Herc's friends are in the department and considers having him reassigned. Royce then talks with Herc, asking his career goals in the department and why he chose the mayor's detail. Herc claims he did it to move up on the sergeants list, and Royce then immediate calls Burrell to have him promoted. (Major Valchek spoke with Herc about the oral sex incident and predicted the promotion would occur in the way that it had).

Royce's campaign receives its first major setback in the debates. Carcetti drops a bombshell on Royce when he uses news of a recently murdered state's witness in an answer taking the opportunity to accuse Royce of ignoring his request for witness protection in Baltimore - Royce is unaware of the killing and unable to respond adequately. Royce's campaign then goes downhill as Carcetti has now grasped a sizeable amount of Black voters.[2]

Royce gets more angered when Commissioner Burrell fails to successfully downplay the witness investigation and promises to fire Burrell at Parker's request following an election victory. Furthermore, Royce is criticized by Delegate Watkins who is instrumental in keeping Royce eye to eye with the city council members. Watkins is angered by Royce's support of both Marla Daniels and her opponent Eunetta Perkins who he promised to drop from his ticket. Furthermore, Watkins believes that Royce is more interested in appeasing the developers who have funded his campaign and the large sums of money that Royce has been illegally collecting on the side. Watkins also believes that Royce has disregarded the city's African American community stating that he is hiding behind Marcus Garvey campaign posters to win their vote. Watkins then breaks with Royce after claiming that he is immoral and unable to keep his promises. The security detail to Royce notices this and informs Deputy Rawls who believes that Tommy Carcetti can do better things for their police department. Carcetti gets Watkins' support and with Watkins' support, Royce loses the election.

Season 5


Through Royce's depiction on the show, his relationships with various subordinates and groups is shown in a differing manner. Mayor Royce is shown having a good relationship with Property Developers, a bad relationship with Commissioner Burrell and Councilmen Carcetti and Gray, and a circumstantial relationship with other various characters whom he interacts with on the show.

Property Developers

Mayor Royce cares greatly about those who fund his campaign as he seeks re-election through development and reform of a decayed city. Royce is quick to protect developers such as Andy Krawcyzk who own development agencies and contribute heavily to his office. In turn, Royce overrides their permits to be approved by power of the Mayor's office regardless of opposition to developing in a specific area (The Grainery in Season 2 which IBS members were fighting to keep is an example). Every month, Royce held a poker game where the developers' losses (most of which occurred by purposeful folds) would go into Mayor Royce's pockets to buy influence throughout Baltimore City's residents and politicians. Royce also is seen showing support for Senator Clay Davis, a corrupt politician who receives illegal money that contributes heavily to the support of the city administration offices. As Royce's campaign is dependent on developer money, he is stated to be "in bed with every developer" having their security as a paramount concern of his.

Police Department and State's Attorney's office

As Mayor Royce's office is viewed as being soft on crime by the public safety subcomittee, Royce is extremely critical of the Baltimore Police Department often blaming Commissioner Ervin Burrell solely for the department's problems. Other politicians such as Odell Watkins view Burrell as merely the "hack" of the ministers and often pass down the negative criticism of the department to the mayor's office. To improve his office's view on crime, Royce pressures Burrell to reduce it by any means necessary as a means of being re-elected. The pressure causes Burrell to relieve two of his majors Marvin Taylor and Howard Colvin, two African American district commanders whose districts' uncontrollable drug trade made them unable to reduce crime by conventional methods instructed to them by the department's upper command. Burrell was quick to criticize his own subordinates in order to protect Royce from the City Council. Because of this, Royce initially values Burrell's loyalty but is later angered by the department for issuing subpoenas against election fundraisers and making the public aware of the murder of a dead state's witness. Royce looks from there to fire Burrell upon re-election and promote William Rawls to the BPD Commissioner. Royce is also criticized for keeping Steven Demper, the Maryland State's Attorney for Baltimore City on his campaign ticket as Demper is more interested in his elected position then pursuing justice. Demper, like Burrell is valued for his loyalty and keeps his post under Royce's rule. Following the election, Royce and Demper both lose however and a new front office consisting of former Councilman Thomas Carcetti and State's Attorney Rupert Bond take their places respectively.

City Council and politicians

Royce generally relies on Chief of Staff Coleman Parker and Delegate Watkins to help him remain eye to eye with city council members. Royce appreciates loyalty from city politicians keeping them on his campaign ticket even when their position is questionably granted. He is shown being hammered by Baltimore City Council members Tony Gray and Thomas Carcetti for the decay of the city due to the rise in crime and decline in quality of public education. To appease the two of them, especially Carcetti whom he views as a threat to his chair, Royce criticizes Ervin Burrell and other public figures pressuring them to meet the council's demands if for any other reason to guarantee re-election. It is noted early in Season 3 that Royce receives no support from the first district represented by Carcetti as it is a predominantly white ethnic area in Southeastern Baltimore which has a history for voting against African American politicians. When Royce is questioned about witness protection from Carcetti, Odell Watkins assists Carcetti in obtaining the matching funds, but Royce ignores the council's pleas which eventually result in becoming a problem in his campaign. Royce also finds conflict with Watkins in the city's eleventh district for keeping incumbent councilwoman Eunetta Perkins on his ticket. Royce eventually lies to Watkins promising to drop her for Watkins' protege Marla Daniels, but keeps Perkins on the ticket anyway. This causes a split from Delegate Watkins who is the kingmaker essential in keeping Royce in line with the council members. Coleman Parker remains loyal to Royce up until the election where following the loss, he plans to help a new candidate from Maryland's Eastern Shore with Carcetti's Chief of Staff Norman Wilson. Royce also relies heavily on West Baltimore State Senator Clay Davis who when properly positioned is an instrumental player in gaining the necessary votes from specifically needed people. Davis' loyalty however is circumstant to bribery and those who protect him from criminal investigations.


Following Royce's introduction in Season 3, city voters are angered by the rise in crime and other negative attributes from Royce's office. Royce appeases the voters through criticizing and threatening to demote his subordinates such as Burrell to make the city look better. Royce is actually more concerned about creating a good image amongst city voters temporarily as a means of winning the election and is not as concerned about having his office create good permanent changes that occur based on the voter's actual needs. To win against Tommy Carcetti and Tony Gray, Royce plays the race card in the election in Season 4 relying on Baltimore's African American majority to vote for him. Royce's office figures that with their funding, Carcetti's race, African American flag campaign colors, and Marcus Garvey posters that Royce appears as the best candidate amongst African American voters. Odell Watkins however sees through Royce's scheme pointing out that his interest in the voters' safety is not as high as his interest in the property developers' security causing him to move his support to Tommy Carcetti which becomes the turning point during re-election.


Royce is shown married presumably with children in season 4 but is caught in an adulterous affair with a female secretary by police officer Thomas "Herc" Hauk. After establishing Herc's loyalty, Royce grants him a promotion and manages to keep both his marriage alive and his affair secret. While not shown explicitly at any other times, it can be assumed by Royce's position and character that he has taken advantage of his position engaging in secret adulterous affairs at other times throughout the series. With his front office staff of Parker and the police officers assigned to security detail, Royce has the necessary cover to engage in affairs on various opportunities. Royce's wife appears accompanying him to church on the Sunday before the election in what appears to be a happy marriage.



Season 3
"Time after Time" "All Due Respect" "Dead Soldiers" "Amsterdam" "Straight and True"
"Homecoming" "Back Burners" "Moral Midgetry" "Slapstick" "Reformation"
"Middle Ground" "Mission Accomplished"
Season 4
"Boys of Summer" "Soft Eyes" "Home Rooms" "Refugees" "Alliances"
"Margin of Error" "Unto Others" "Corner Boys" "Know Your Place" "Misgivings"
"A New Day" "That's Got His Own" "Final Grades"
Season 5
"More with Less" "Unconfirmed Reports" "Not for Attribution" "Transitions" "React Quotes"
"The Dickensian Aspect" "Took" "Clarifications" "Late Editions" "-30-"



  • Royce is based on Clarence H. "Du" Burns, the first black mayor of Baltimore.[3]


  1. Number 1 reason to watch HBO The Wire - Sen. Clay Davis!. You Tube (2004). Retrieved on 2006-09-13.
  2. Character profile - Mayor Clarence V. Royce. HBO (2006). Retrieved on 2006-09-15.
  3. [1]