Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski is a schoolteacher and ex-detective.


Prez has a well-known history of incompetence in the department. The incident most often cited is that he once shot up his own squad car in a panic, then called in a false report. He has been bounced around various units, and is considered an inept detective. Because he married the daughter of career officer (and political force) Stanislaus Valchek, he is protected from being fired, despite their mutual dislike of each other. Prez had most recently been working in the casualty division under Lieutenant Cantrell prior to the series.

In the entire series, he is the only police officer who fires a gun.  He does so on several occasions, including accidentally shooting a wall and firing wildly while under attack at the high rises in Season One, and when he accidentally kills another officer in Season Three.

Season oneEdit

Prez is a troubled officer in the Baltimore City Police Department. He was involved in an incident where he fired at his own car with his off duty weapon and falsely called in that he was under fire. He lied about the incident for half a day until the ballistics showed that the bullets came from his own gun. The State's Attorney's office considered indicting Prez for false report. However, his political connections led to his punishment being reduced to a reassignment from auto crime to the casualty section. Prez remained there for several months before asking out of casualty.

Prez is sent to Lieutenant Daniels' Barksdale detail because Deputy Commissioner Burrell tells the unit commanders to dump their most incompetent officers on Daniels. Upon arrival at the detail, he accidentally shoots a wall while showing off modifications to his gun. Daniels is appalled, but agrees to keep Prez if Cantrell will also give him Leander Sydnor, a highly-respected detective.

Later, Prez, Herc, and Carver drunkenly incite a near-riot in the Barksdale towers. They arrive in the middle of the night, drunk, and begin harassing people; in the process, Prez pistol-whips a teenager with his service weapon, blinding him in one eye. Daniels stands up for his detective and protects him from serious repercussions by making up a story for Prez to tell I.I.D. (Internal Investigation Division); Prez is ultimately suspended from street duty, but Valchek is pleased with Daniels for helping Prez.

Stuck in the office, Prez grows bored and begins playing with the pager codes the Barksdale crew uses, eventually breaking them and making a major contribution to the case. Under Freamon's mentoring, he discovers a facility for wiretap work and for chasing the paper trail, eventually becoming a valuable member of the team.

Season twoEdit

Prez confesses to his father-in-law that his earlier problems had largely been due to dissatisfaction with his traffic police work. He told him that detailed case work had become his passion and that he wanted to continue to work major cases. When Valchek starts feuding with Frank Sobotka, he requests a detail similar to the previous Barksdale detail. Instead, Burrell gives him incompetent "humps". Prez is given minor authority within the detail, but Lieutenant Grayson will not follow his recommendations on how to proceed. Prez tells his father-in-law that the detail is making little progress, and Valchek, after seeing the unit at work, demands that Daniels become the unit commander, threatening to derail Burrell's quest to be police commissioner.

When the focus of the investigation shifts away from Sobotka, Valchek angrily confronts the detail, and berating Prez specifically. Prez stands up for their work and punches Valchek. With Prez facing charges of assaulting a commanding officer and insubordination, Daniels stands up for him a second time, pointing out that, if there is an official inqury, the FBI agents present during the incident would affirm that Prez hit Valchek only after the latter had shoved and cursed at him. Valchek agrees that Prez can return to the detail following a written letter of apology and two months of working the midnight shift as a narcotics detective in his district. [1]

Season threeEdit

Prez joins Daniels' newly formed Major Crimes Unit. When responding to a distress call, Prez fatally shoots a plain clothes officer, Waggoner, in a case of night-time mistaken identity. He is brought up on administrative charges and suspended because the officer was African American and the shooting was potentially racially motivated. Prez vehemently denies being racist but, due to the press and Baltimore's majority African American population, the story leaks out and prompts a hearing from both the courts and the vanguard (Baltimore's African American police officer union). Prez is shocked at the fact that he killed another officer and quits the force though Daniels, Caroline Massey and Lester Freamon (all African-American) agree to testify that he did not kill Waggoner out of racial prejudice.

Season fourEdit

Photo 4

Prez starts a new career as a math teacher at Edward Tilghman Middle School. As a teacher, he becomes attached to the students in his classroom, even going as far as to assist a neglected student Duquan "Dukie" Weems with laundry and food that his family does not provide for him. Prez sees through the school system's flaws, but adapts well, and becomes a decent teacher that enjoys helping the students advance through class.

Season fiveEdit

Prez is absent for almost all of Season 5 save for a brief appearance in the final episode, -30-. By then Prez has become a well-respected teacher and has grown a full beard. Dukie Weems approaches Prez when his former teacher is leaving for the day, asking him for money for rent and to enroll in a GED program. However, Dukie's actual motive is to buy drugs to feed a new drug addiction. Prez even drives Dukie to the location Dukie claims is his home, but Prez, before driving off, sees Dukie buying heroin. Prez leaves, obviously disappointed.

Trivia Edit

  • The only police officer who, in the course of the series, is shown killing anyone. Also the only police officer shown to fire his gun. This is representative of how little police officers in real life use their weapons in the line of duty, with many career officers never firing a single shot in the field.



Season 1 appearances
"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 appearances
"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 appearances
"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 appearances
"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 appearances
"More with Less" "Unconfirmed Reports" "Not for Attribution" "Transitions" "React Quotes"
"The Dickensian Aspect" "Took" "Clarifications" "Late Editions" "–30–"


The character's code breaking facility, and the pager code itself from season one, are based on the Melvin "Chin" Farmer case investigated by Harry Edgerton and Ed Burns.[2] His experiences as a teacher are based on those of Ed Burns, who retired from the police to become a teacher in Baltimore.


  1. Dan Kois (2004). Everything you were afraid to ask about "The Wire". Retrieved on 2006-07-12.
  2. Alvarez, Rafael (2004). The Wire: Truth Be Told. New York: Pocket Books.