There’s A Fascinating True Story Behind ‘APB’

by Laura Rosenfeld

This year's Super Bowl may get people excited for FOX's new 24 reboot, 24: Legacy, which premieres on the network following the conclusion of the big game on Sunday, Feb. 5. But don't overlook FOX's other new offering this month: APB, which premieres on Monday, Feb. 6 at 9 p.m. ET. This high-tech cop drama may look like something straight out of science fiction, but you may be surprised to learn that APB is actually based on a true story.

This new series was inspired by the 2015 New York Times Magazine article "Who Runs the Streets of New Orleans?" by David Amsden, according to APB's summary on the show's website. The article details the real story of the French Quarter Task Force, a private police squad that residents of the famed New Orleans neighborhood can summon via a mobile app. The group was founded by Sidney Torres, a wealthy entrepreneur who became motivated to help combat the city's high crime rate after his home and then the bar next door were burglarized.

Throughout the article, Amsden explores the French Quarter Task Force's methods of fighting crime, the persistence of crime in New Orleans, and the rise of private security detail in inner cities. The writer also describes the successes of the French Quarter Task Force in turning crime around in New Orleans, as well as the work that still lies ahead for the squad.

APB takes this story to a different city, Chicago, where billionaire engineer Gideon Reeves (Justin Kirk) is also inspired by a traumatic personal experience with crime when he puts up millions of dollars of his own money to take charge of Chi-Town's 13th precinct. He witnessed his best friend die during an armed robbery, and the killer remains at large with little help from the Chicago Police Department in solving the case. So Gideon decides to bulk up the Windy City's police force with high-tech guns, cars, and an app in an effort to find justice for his late friend.

From what I can tell of the series so far from watching preview clips, it seems like APB is going to focus more on technology's impact on law enforcement, as in can high-tech gadgets and software do just as good or perhaps even better of a job of catching bad guys as human police officers? But "Who Runs the Streets of New Orleans?" is a story that's focused more on the role of private police forces in major cities and if municipalities are really equipped to adequately deal with crime today, which APB will also touch on.


So it should come as no surprise that the police technology in APB seems really futuristic. The billionaire behind the 13th precinct's upgrade is an engineer who runs a major tech company, Reeves Industries, after all. Torres, the real-life entrepreneur on which the character of Gideon is based, made his fortune as the founder of SDT Waste & Debris Services, a sanitation company that helped clean up New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Aside from a mobile app that allows users to report crimes and enables the security detail to patrol using GPS, and the use of black Polaris Rangers to roam around the city, the French Quarter Task Force isn't really that high-tech, if you think about it, at least not compared to a fictional TV series. However, the French Quarter Task Force did receive new Smart cars and revamped administrative functions in its app last June, according to NOLA.com.

Though Torres and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu are the only individuals who really stand out in The New York Times Magazine article, APB will go more in-depth on other fully formed characters in addition to Gideon, such as the street-smart detective Theresa Murphy (Natalie Martinez), talented tech officer Ada Hamilton (Caitlin Stasey), skeptical Captain Ned Conrad (Ernie Hudson), and tenacious officers Nicholas Brandt (Taylor Handley) and Tasha Goss (Tamberla Perry). No matter how much mind-blowing technology a real or fictional police force uses, it's always going to be about the people.