|First appearance||"The Target" (episode 1.01)|
|Last appearance||"–30–" (episode 5.10)|
|Created by||David Simon|
|Portrayed by||Lance Reddick|
Deputy Commissioner for Operations (retired)
|Title||Deputy of Operations|
|Spouse(s)||Marla Daniels (wife, separated), Rhonda Pearlman (partner)|
Cedric Daniels is a fictional character on the HBO drama The Wire, played by Lance Reddick. He is reasonably well regarded in the department by making his subordinates focus on decent police work and quality arrests. He occasionally has disagreements with some higher-ranking officers but for the most part performs quite well, completing most tasks in a satisfactory fashion, gaining a reputation as both a reliable commander and an above-average investigator within the department. Daniels has been investigated by the FBI for corruption, and was found to have "a couple hundred thousand dollars more in liquid assets than any police Lieutenant should ever have". By the end of the series he had risen through the ranks to commissioner but subsequently resigned after refusing a political request to manipulate crime statistics and as a result, started a new career working as a lawyer.
Although eight actors are billed in the opening credits for all 60 episodes, Daniels is the character who actually appears in the most episodes, 58 out of 60.
When Detective McNulty prompted Judge Phelan to start asking questions about the Barksdale drug dealing organization, Major Foerster came to Daniels for more information. He wasn't able to offer much as the narcotics division were unaware of Barksdale. He had Greggs write a report and, soon after, Daniels was given command of the Barksdale Detail. He nominated Greggs as lead detective and described her as the best he had to Foerster. He met with Deputy Commissioner Burrell who told him the case should be made with buy busts in a fast, straightforward investigation.
Daniels discussed his new assignment with his ambitious wife, Marla. They worried that it might slow his progression and he promised that he would run the investigation the way that his superior wanted. Marla's own ambitions drove her to pursue a career in politics and Daniels attended political fundraisers with his wife. At one such function he found himself hiding with the politicians' drivers in the kitchen. There, he met Senator Clay Davis' driver Day-Day, who the police later discovered to be a bag man involved with Baltimore's drug trade.
Daniels has a difficult relationship with the insubordinate McNulty that began at their first meeting. Foerster and Burrell both warned Daniels that McNulty was responsible for Phelan's sudden interest. For his part, McNulty was warned by his partner Bunk Moreland that Daniels was a career officer and next in line for his own district as soon as a position with a Major's rank opened up. McNulty's FBI contact also alerted him that Daniels had several hundred thousand dollars of questionable liquid assets; it is later implied that these were picked up during Daniels' tenure in the poorly-supervised Eastern district. Daniels initially tried to follow Burrell's advice that the operation should be fast and simple. He shot down McNulty's suggestions of a surveillance operation at their first meeting.
Daniels also had difficulties with several other detectives on the detail. He was initially assigned detectives that other districts wanted to remove. Augustus Polk, Patrick Mahon and Lester Freamon appeared to be aging detectives happy to see out their careers. Mahon was injured in a raid and took early retirement; following this, his partner Polk took to drinking more heavily and missed several days' work. Daniels insisted that Polk either clean himself up or sign off sick; Polk opted for the latter. Freamon was a different story and proved to be quietly capable and a huge asset to Daniels's detail.
Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski was a trigger happy detective who had once shot up his own patrol car before he was assigned to Daniels's detail. Daniels was able to convince Prez's commanding officer, Lieutenant Cantrell, to balance taking the difficult officer out of his hands by assigning him Leander Sydnor, a promising young detective. Prez continued his self-destructive behaviour, attending an unsanctioned, drunken late-night raid on the Barksdale tower operations with Daniels' long standing men Herc and Carver. Prez injured a young boy and Daniels was left to deal with the consequences. He stood by Prez despite his history of problems and defended him to his superiors. In the process he gained the respect of Prez's father-in-law, Major Valchek. Under Daniels's supervision and Freamon's tutelage Prez developed into an effective investigator. Sydnor was also a valuable asset to the Daniels detail, performing undercover work and gelling well with the dependable Freamon.
Herc and Carver continued to be problematic for Daniels. He suspected them of stealing seized money when the cash they turned into evidence did not match a reported amount. He remained loyal to his men, leniently giving them one day to return it rather than turning them in immediately.
As the investigation progressed, Daniels's attitude towards the case changed. He risked his career several times in order to protect the case. When Major Rawls wanted to issue a murder warrant for D'Angelo Barksdale based on flimsy evidence, the Barksdale detail was dismayed, since arresting D'Angelo would tip off Avon to the investigation. McNulty and Greggs pleaded with Daniels to fight for their case. Daniels appealed to Rawls and then to Foerster to hold off on arresting D'Angelo, without success. Finally Daniels bypassed the chain of command and met directly with Burrell and an angry Rawls. After a heated argument, Daniels managed to persuade the deputy commissioner to delay the warrants.
Later Freamon began to investigate Barksdale's money trail and found campaign contributions to Baltimore political figures. Daniels's team arrested his acquaintance, Day-Day, the senator's driver, collecting cash from the Barksdale crew. Rather than seizing the money, Daniels's superiors forced him to return the money with no further investigation to avoid raising the senator's ire. When Burrell, in order to shut the case down, threatened to reveal the source of Daniels's liquid assets, Daniels responded by calling Burrell's bluff, pointing out the Deputy's fear of the bad press that would result in Daniels's past misdeeds coming to light. Burrell used Detective Carver to provide him with inside information. Daniels recognised Carver's betrayal.
Over the course of the investigation, Daniels worked closely with Assistant State's Attorney Rhonda Pearlman. She was instrumental in using her judicial connections to provide Daniels with the warrants and affidavits needed for his teams surveillance efforts.
The Barksdale investigation ended with the arrest of leader Avon Barksdale and his nephew D'Angelo along with soldier Wee-Bey Brice and several other members of the organization. Convictions were secured against all three and Wee-Bey confessed to several unsolved homicides to prevent fallout reaching other members of the organization. The result was unsatisfying for Daniels because Avon Barksdale's conviction was for minor offences and second-in-command Stringer Bell escaped uncharged to continue the organization's drug trade. Much better results were within Daniels's grasp when his team convinced D'Angelo to testify against the Barksdale organization. However, D'Angelo's mother Brianna talked him out of this course and he ended up taking a twenty-year sentence for his family.
Daniels's work on the Barksdale case certainly hurt his career; at the end of the first season, he is seen exchanging pleasantries with a newly minted major, a position that he had been on the fast track for. However, he has won the respect of his unit for a dedication to their cases, which surpasses that of their other commanding officers.
Daniels was reassigned to the evidence division following the dissolution of the Barksdale detail. He was given the post as punishment for defying Burrell, despite the investigation producing several arrests. Trapped in what seemed to be a dead-end job, Daniels planned to leave the department and become a lawyer.
He was given a second chance when Major Valchek insisted (on Prez's recommendation) that Daniels be given command of a special detail he had requested to investigate union leader Frank Sobotka. Daniels realized Valchek had asked for him personally in exchange for offering Burrell political support and used this fact to leverage several promises from Burrell. Daniels stood his ground even though Burrell had the DEA file on Daniels's unexplained income. Daniels later confided to his wife that Burrell "knew," confirming that the allegations against Daniels were correct. Daniels insisted on picking his own detectives this time and forced Burrell to agree that if the investigation was successful then Daniels would become commander of a permanent unit.
Daniels's detail initially consisted of Prez, Greggs and Herc. Rhonda Pearlman again acted as Daniels's courthouse liaison. Daniels allowed Carver the chance to rejoin the team despite his previous treachery. Daniels told Carver he believed that after his previous actions Carver would be the last to betray him again, but insisted that Carver's promotion to sergeant would be in name only as he felt he had not earned his stripes. Daniels campaigned for McNulty to rejoin the team but was denied by a vengeful Colonel Rawls, McNulty's old commander. Daniels did convince Rawls to let him have Freamon, who had been assigned to homicide after the Barksdale detail. Sydnor had returned to his district and could not be detailed. Daniels's detail worked closely with Bunk Moreland who was investigating multiple homicides at the docks and Officer Beatrice Russell, who was detailed to Bunk's investigation from the Port Authority. Russell blossomed into a capable investigator with Daniels's team and was instrumental in coming up with the idea of cloning the ports computers to monitor smuggling. Daniels finally persuaded Rawls to let McNulty return by agreeing to take on Rawls's murders from the docks.
In the meantime, Daniels began to have personal difficulties with wife due to his career decisions. Eventually, they began to sleep in different rooms of their home.
The investigation progressed and the detail linked Sobotka's union to a smuggling operation run by a mysterious figure called "The Greek", Sobotka's nephew Nick was proven to be involved in drug dealing and Sobtoka's son Ziggy was arrested for a homicide during the investigation. Ziggy killed George "Double G" Glekas in a warehouse involved in the Greek's smuggling. Daniels's detail was not informed of Ziggy's arrest and this gave The Greeks time to clear out the warehouse. Valchek became disillusioned with Daniels when he learned that the focus was shifting away from Sobotka onto "The Greek" and he involved the FBI. Valchek insulted the detail and Prez in a heated meeting and Daniels was forced to once again defend Prez after he punched Valchek. Daniels quickly collected statements from all the officers and agents present and successfully convinced Valchek it would be best to accept an apology from Prez.
With the wealth of evidence collected against Sobotka, he was arrested along with several other people identified by the team. The warrant for Double G revealed his empty shop and warehouse with all evidence disposed of. Daniels's people noticed the bloodstain from the shooting and he went to violent crimes to find out what had happened. Daniels was enraged that Sergeant Landsman had not realized the significance of the murder and told him of Ziggy's arrest. With several of Sobotka's family in jeopardy, Daniels's team convinced him to act as an informant on "The Greek" and arranged for him to return with a lawyer the next day. Sobotka was murdered before the detail could take his testimony. "The Greek" himself escaped before the detail could locate him. The investigation was disappointing for the detail but seemed a tremendous success for the department. Bunk and Freamon secured evidence that solved the homicides, but the suspect was already dead, so no conviction was made. Several prominent East-side drug figures were arrested, including "White" Mike McArdle, along with some of The Greek's men including Sergei "Serge" Malatov and Eton Ben-Eleazer. Daniels was seen to have delivered on his promises and was once more in the department's good books.
Daniels's success in the Sobotka investigation meant that Burrell had to honor his promise to let Daniels form a permanent Major Case Unit. His Unit initially consisted of Detectives McNulty, Greggs, Freamon, Sydnor, Prez and a new officer named Caroline Massey. The detail returned to investigating the Barksdale organization and their association with Proposition Joe, an East Side drug kingpin with links to "The Greek" from the Sobotka investigation.
Daniels separated from his wife, Marla, partly because of her dissatisfaction at his failure to progress in the Police Department. He found that her attempt to enter politics after their separation further hindered his climb through the ranks, as she was running in opposition to a close ally of the mayor's. Nonetheless, he continued to support her through her political career, attending functions in uniform and acting the part of a devoted husband. After his separation from his wife, Daniels briefly was living in the detail office, then, after moving into a bachelor apartment, started a relationship with Rhonda Pearlman. Cedric remained skeptical about making the relationship between him and Pearlman public as he is still appearing as Marla's husband in order to help promote her bid for city council. Daniels claims that it will look bad for Marla's political career for him to be seen separated from her with a white woman.
Throughout the season, he was commended several times throughout the department due to his good police work. He was commended by Stanislaus Valchek, Deputy Rawls, Major Colvin, and even Commissioner Burrell amongst other commanding officers. This, however, was not enough for Daniels, whose promotion to major was supposedly delayed due to his wife's political conflicts. Daniels also felt that Burrell was purposefully holding him back due to past incidents. Daniels became even more angered when the Major Case targets were changed courtesy of McNulty, who went around the chain of command to retarget Stringer Bell and Avon Barksdale. This earned McNulty Daniels's wrath as he then told McNulty to find another unit to work in following the arrest of Bell. At the end of season three, Bell died but Barksdale was arrested courtesy of Major Colvin, who was then forced to retire from the department due to his "Hamsterdam" experiment. Following Barksdale's arrest, he was finally promoted to major when the fallout over Colvin's "Hamsterdam" zone caused the Mayor to throw his support behind Marla. Daniels was hence given the Western District which was previously commanded by Colvin.
In an interview, Lance Reddick described the direction his character would take in the fourth season. He stated that his promotion would give him the added responsibility of a district to command, less dealings with the day to day running of the Major Case Unit, friction with the unit's replacement lieutenant, and the difficulties of being more open about his relationship with Rhonda Pearlman.
Daniels was given the post of Western district commander with Dennis Mello acting as his administrative lieutenant. Lieutenant Asher replaced him as commander of the major case unit even though Lester Freamon was the unit's true leader. Daniels hoped to convince McNulty into returning to detective work but had little success. At the same time, Daniels realized that on a personal level, McNulty was better off in patrol.
Kima Greggs meets with Daniels to discuss a transfer after Lieutenant Charlie Marimow takes over major crimes. Daniels suggest a move to homicide, and successfully meets with Deputy Commissioner William Rawls to facilitate the transfer.
After finding out that his student Randy Wagstaff knows information about Curtis “Lex” Anderson's murder, Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski (now a schoolteacher) meets with Daniels. Daniels suggests Ellis Carver as the person Prez should consult about the matter. Daniels questions Prez’s interest and Prez tells him he cares about Randy because he is one of his students.
Following the mayoral election, Daniels attends a COMSTAT meeting chaired by Commissioner Ervin Burrell and Deputy Rawls. He tells his commanders that the homicide rate has dropped while other felony rates have risen. Primary victor Carcetti arrives to observe the meeting, later discussing the possibility of removing Burrell from commissioner, and possibly replacing him. However, he is warned that he would not be able to due to racial issues. In the meeting, Carcetti observes that Daniels is more interested in quality felony arrests than statistical reductions on crime.
Carcetti next encounters Daniels while riding along with some Baltimore police officers who are called to a shooting. Daniels is the duty officer and is proficient in controlling the crime scene. Carcetti is impressed and learns from his accompanying officers that Daniels is more respected than most other commanding officers in the department. Carcetti invites Daniels to lunch and offers him a promotion to Colonel commanding the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) under Rawls. Daniels was officially promoted at the same ceremony as Major Stanislaus Valchek. Commissioner Burrell, becoming suspicious of the recent change of rank in the department, starts wondering about his future.
Burrell is especially worried about Daniels's promotion because he realizes Mayor Carcetti wants to fire him but needs an African American replacement in a majority-black city like Baltimore to do so. As Daniels suddenly rose in rank in going from Shift Lieutenant to CID colonel in just over one year, earned the mayor's favor through his policing strategies, and is African-American, Burrell sees Daniels as Carcetti's in-house choice of replacement. State Senator Clay Davis and Burrell are both wary of Daniels and convince the city council president Nerese Campbell that he is not a good candidate for police commissioner. They tell Campbell that he cares more about serving Carcetti than the city's African American community and that he is less the saint he pretends to be. This implies that Burrell is willing to revisit the excessive income charges from Daniels's days in the Eastern District's Drug Enforcement Unit to prevent Daniels from getting his chair as commissioner.
As CID colonel, Daniels clears Detective Hauk of a racial profiling incident and then assists Lester Freamon in building a case against the Stanfield Organization. Freamon discovers evidence of dead bodies in abandoned row houses and asks Daniels for more manpower for a citywide search. Daniels gives Freamon more patrolmen and the city's homicide rate increases dramatically with the discovery of 22 concealed bodies killed by the Stanfield Organization. During this time, it is pointed out to Rawls by Valchek that Daniels is likely to become the department's next commissioner. Daniels transfers McNulty back into the major crimes unit from Western patrol. The unit is targeting Marlo Stanfield. As the season ends, Deputy Rawls believes that Daniels will be moved up the ladder even further while Commissioner Burrell and Senator Davis conspire to keep Daniels from getting the commissioner's post.
Daniels is outraged when Mayor Tommy Carcetti decides to close the major crimes unit due to budgetary problems after over a year of investigative work into the vacant house murders, the Stanfield Organization and corruption linked to Senator Clay Davis. He discusses it with his domestic partner, Assistant State's Attorney Rhonda Pearlman, and they approach State's Attorney Rupert Bond together. Bond and Daniels arrange a meeting with Carcetti to appeal the decision but Carcetti has little time for them. Bond is able to convince Carcetti to allow a two-man detail for the Davis case. Daniels is outraged that the corruption charge has been given priority over the murders, saying "So one thieving politician trumps 22 dead bodies. Good to know." Daniels reluctantly reassigns Kima Greggs and Jimmy McNulty to homicide and keeps Lester Freamon and Leander Sydnor for the Davis detail.
Carcetti finally accrues the political capital he needs to fire Commissioner Ervin Burrell when Burrell delivers false crime statistics to Carcetti. Carcetti plans to fire Burrell and temporarily promote Rawls to acting commissioner with Daniels serving as Deputy Commissioner of Operations to prepare him to take over as commissioner. Carcetti leaks the story to The Baltimore Sun to gauge reaction to Daniels. The story runs with a quote invented by Scott Templeton and attributed to a city hall source. The quote falsely implicates Daniels in causing Burrell's departure.
Daniels discusses the story with Pearlman and while she is ecstatic he is concerned about Templeton’s quote. Daniels meets with his ex-wife Marla to discuss Burrell’s potential reaction to the story. They are both worried that Burrell will reveal evidence of corruption from Daniels’s past. Marla suggests that Burrell will use what he knows about Daniels to try to retain his position as commissioner. Marla suggests that Daniels approach Burrell and promise not to take the commissioner post. Daniels thinks that Burrell might not have any more than assets investigations but Marla reminds him that his past has already cost their marriage, which was a high enough price, and that rumor will be enough to prevent him from becoming commissioner.
Daniels approaches Burrell to plead his innocence but is met with the silent treatment. City Council President Nerese Campbell convinces Burrell to leave quietly in exchange for a comfortable replacement position. Carcetti holds a press conference to announce the promotions.
During the final episode Daniels is promoted to Commissioner after the homeless killings and the case of the murders in the abandoned houses is solved. However, after refusing to "juke the stats" and Campbell's threats of revealing Burrell's dossier, he resigns from the force. His last act as police commissioner is to confer a set of promotions, including that of Ellis Carver to Lieutenant. In the final flash-forward montage, Daniels is shown practicing as a criminal defense lawyer before Pearlman as a newly commissioned judge.
Lance Reddick was cast in the role after auditioning for the parts of Bunk Moreland and Bubbles. He was told that they were looking for "a name" to fill the Daniels role. Reddick has described the character as serious, intense and committed.
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