The Wire
The Wire
This article is about the fictional character. For the actor, see Jay Landsman (actor).

Sergeant Jay Landsman is a squad supervisor in the Homicide Unit of the Baltimore Police Department.


Season 1

By 2002, Landsman was ranked sergeant and serving as a squad supervisor for one of three Homicide squads in the Baltimore Police Department. His commanding officer was originally William Rawls. Landsman's squad consisted of detectives James McNulty, Bunk Moreland, Michael Santangelo, Ray Cole, Edward Norris, Vernon Holley, and Michael Crutchfield.

When McNulty circumvented the chain of command and incurred Rawl's wrath by being detailed to another unit Landsman appeared unsympathetic. ("The Target")

He insisted that McNulty's work looking at old homicide cases for the detail be put to his advantage to make up for losing a detective. To this end, he insisted that McNulty look into the Deirdre Kresson murder case; McNulty was reluctant because the case appeared unrelated. Landsman was sure a link would be found and his intuition later proved correct. However, Landsman did argue McNulty's case with Rawls and managed to get Rawls to agree that McNulty could return to homicide with a clean slate if the investigation was wrapped up quickly. Despite Landsman's best efforts McNulty remained out of favour with Rawls because he refused to end the case he was working on prematurely.

Landsman always maintained a black and twisted humour about the work of his squad. When Rawls gave Detective Santangelo an ultimatum of clearing a "whodunit" case by days end Landsman recommended a psychic to Santangelo. He claimed that the woman, Madame LaRue, was especially gifted in "matters of death investigation". Santangelo took this advice by burying a doll in a grave awaking later that night to be given evidence in the murder that had occurred. When "Sanny" saw that he had been given information regarding an open homicide, he thanked Landsman who then told him that the Gypsy routine was a joke and that it had been Bunk and McNulty who saved his career.[1]

Landsman's squad investigated the murder of Wendell "Orlando" Blocker and the wounding of Detective Greggs and he was personally involved in the investigation.

Season 2

Landsman's squad was altered as Rawls transferred Santangelo and McNulty out of the unit because they had displeased him by working with the Barksdale detail. Lester Freamon returned to homicide after a thirteen year absence and joined Landsman's squad.

When Rawls was forced to take on the multiple homicide case of fourteen unidentified dead women he entrusted it to Landsman. Landsman gave the case to Freamon and Bunk telling them they were his best detectives. When his detectives started working with Cedric Daniels Sobotka detail Landsman saw the potential to offload the responsibility of the case but Daniels initially refused.

Landsman was responsible for the interrogation of Chester "Ziggy" Sobotka after he killed George "Double G" Glekas. Although Ziggy quickly confessed Landsman failed to inform Daniels' specialised detail about the murder in time for them to become involved. Daniels was irate with Landsman for his lack of forethought when it allowed his targets to dispose of evidence at the Glekas crime scene.

Season 3

Landsman appeared as a commanding detective of homicide again this season mainly associated with finding the service weapon of Officer Dozerman whose gun was stolen in a failed undercover buy. He had William Moreland look for the gun pressuring him intensely until Bunk wrote a ten page report stating how unproductive the investigation became. Bunk claimed that he had more important things to do as he was a murder investigator and the city's homicide rate was rising. Landsman delivers the eulogy at the Detective's Wake held for Ray Cole after his sudden death.

Landsman later appeared following the death of officer Derrick Waggoner, a black plainclothes officer accidentally killed by Detective Prezbylewski who had mistaken him for a criminal. Landsman was personally angry at the death referring to it as a "clusterfuck" as the officer murdered was a six and a half year veteran who was sixteenth on the current sergeant's list with two recommendations while Prez was known for his incompetence and still in the department all due to his father in law Stan Valchek, the Southeastern district commander.

Season 4

Landsman is not above getting involved in politics. When his detective Ed Norris informs him that he is investigating the murder of a state's witness Landsman passes the knowledge on to Major Valchek in secret. Valchek leaks the information to Thomas Carcetti who uses it against the current mayor in a key debate.

Landsman's squad is boosted by the return of Lester Freamon and the addition of Kima Greggs when a new unit commander drives them out of the major case unit. Landsman and his detectives constantly tease Greggs when she first joins the unit. Political pressure forces Landsman to assign Greggs to the witness murder instead of Norris. When this information is leaked to the press Landsman attends a press conference with Greggs and Norris to diffuse the story by claiming that they were working it together. Greggs feels used by her superiors and this creates friction between her and Landsman. Landsman is forced to intercede in the investigation a second time when Norris threatens to break the case on the eve of the election. Rawls tells him that whatever the outcome of the case one of the candidates will be put out and it is better to leave it pending until after the election. Landsman is told to reassign Greggs and Norris to polling station duty for the day to prevent progress in their investigation.[2]

After the election, Greggs solves the Braddock case which tends to provide less leads than were initially given and she gains Landsman's respect in the process. Landsman then is seen delivering the eulogy for Colonel Foerester whom he claimed had a miraculous career serving 39 years without a trace of bitterness or hostility, a rarity in the Baltimore Police Department. Landsman is then seen criticizing Detective Moreland for reversing one of Detective Holley's clearances as he is against cases going from "black to red". Following Foerester's death, Cedric Daniels is named C.I.D. colonel and allocates more resource to the investigative divisions to allow for more quality investigations at the orders of Mayor elect Thomas Carcetti. Landsman then witnesses Detective Lester Freamon discovering dead bodies in abandoned houses and is initially against their discovery for the purpose of raising the city's homicide rate. When more bodies are discovered, Landsman realizes the squad will be unable to maintain an acceptable clearance rate and becomes less concerned about the department's numbers. Landsman finally sees Bubbles turn himself in for murder of a teenager and after hearing that the death was accidental decides not to press homicide charges sending him to a psychiatric unit at Bayview instead.

Season 5


He is shown dedicated to maintaining an acceptable clearance rate of homicides and is often the mediator between the C.I.D. colonel and his own subordinates. Landsman generally works on behalf of his subordinates especially those who give him the necessary clearances. As a supervisor, Landsman applies pressure from the upper commanders down the line on his unit understanding the department's demands even though in some cases, he does not necessarily agree with specific commanders. This is seen when he is ordered to have William Moreland find a hospitalized detective's firearm and when a dead state's witness becomes an electoral issue in Season 4. Throughout the series, he is shown as a sympathetic commander attempting to find a balance between his loyalty to his subordinates and loyalty to the department's goals. Landsman has only been called to solve a few murders on his own as a supervisor, and was shown treating the criminal suspects with the respect they asked for (He is shown assisting the beatdown of Bird, but is respectful to Chester Sobotka and Bubbles). Overall, under Landsman's supervision, the homicide unit shown ends up often clearing more of the challenging "whodunit" Homicides present in Baltimore city proving him to be a relatively competent and likeable sergeant within the department. Landsman finds the misfortune of the cops in his unit a constant source of amusement but is also protective of them at times. He is loyal to Rawls and also doggedly pursues the high case clearance rates that Rawls aims for but is realistic about the capabilities of his detectives.



Season 1
"The Target" "The Detail" "The Buys" "Old Cases" "The Pager"
"The Wire" "One Arrest" "Lessons" "Game Day" "The Cost"
"The Hunt" "Cleaning Up" "Sentencing"
Season 2
"Ebb Tide" "Collateral Damage" "Hot Shots" "Hard Cases" "Undertow"
"All Prologue" "Backwash" "Duck and Cover" "Stray Rounds" "Storm Warnings"
"Bad Dreams" "Port in a Storm"
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-"

*Uncredited voice appearance.


  • The character is based on and named after a Homicide sergeant whom David Simon met while writing Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. The character is often given dialogue that the writers recall the real Landsman using. Delaney Williams was chosen for the part because of the creators' experience of working with him in small roles on Homicide and The Corner.[3]
  • The real Jay Landsman first appears as Dennis Mello in an uncredited appearance in Stray Rounds.
  • The real Jay Landsman was also the basis for the character John Munch from Homicide.
  • According to Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, the real Landsman is Jewish[4] while there is no confirmation of his counterpart's religion.
  • According to Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, the real Landsman was the least overweight sergeant in the homicide squad,[5] while The Wire's version is one of the more heavyset officers on the force often referred to as "Fat Man."


  1. Character profile - Sergeant Jay Landsman. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-07-22.
  2. Org Chart - The Law. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-07-22.
  3. David Simon. (2005). 'The Wire "The Target" commentary track [DVD]. HBO.
  4. Simon, David [1991] (2006). "One", Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, 4th, Owl Books. ISBN 0-8050-8075-9. “His father had retired with a lieutenant's rank as acting commander of the Northwestern district, the first Jewish officer to rise to a district command on a predominantly Irish force” 
  5. Simon, David [1991] (2006). "One", Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, 4th, Owl Books. ISBN 0-8050-8075-9. “Other sergeants in the homicide unit might resemble grocers who consumed too much of the profits, but at an inch over six feet, Landsman still looked like a street police”