Lt. Joe Kenda, Detective


Do you watch “Homicide Hunter” on the ID Channel? Lt. Joe Kenda.

I had a feeling Joe Kenda was going extemporaneous in what he said during the show. Unscripted. I thought that from the very first episode I watched.

I just read “Wikipedia” and it confirmed that fact. But this is not about “Wikipedia”. It’s about my observations of Joe Kenda.

The hype for the TV show says he solved almost 400 murders from his base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He’s been retired since 1996, and you’d think a little rust would develop along the memory lines, but his dialogue on the ongoing TV show is sharp and crisp.

There was another policeman he reminds me of, Dennis Farina, who was one of Chicago’s finest for 18 years. When Dennis retired, he went into acting. Pretty darn good actor. He could play serious roles, which was probably just a repeat of his everyday life on the police force. But Dennis had terrific comedic timing. He left us too soon in 2013 at the age of 69, the threshold Joe is about to cross.

I doubt Joe Kenda ever turns to comedic acting. I do think Joe could give us a TV series similar to Mickey Spillane’s “Mike Hammer” played by Stacy Keach, except Joe would star in the series.

“Homicide Hunter” does depict a number of times when Joe was called away from home at very inopportune times—eating supper, just got home and has to leave again, holidays. Frankly I don’t see how his wife put up with it. A disruption now and then is understandable in his line of work, but I can’t imagine she would have been happy at having to constantly serve warmed-over meals at 12 or 1 or 2 in the morning.

“Homicide Hunter” also shows Joe as a smoker. I have no idea how much he smoked a day, but considering the number of dead bodies he had to look at, I’d think about five packs a day was norm. I guess he has outwitted lung cancer, and plans to hang around a few more years.

What I like about Joe is how low-key he is, and the show matches his personality. There are no ah ha moments, and no great dramatic build-ups. Other TV shows would have had Joe having almost 400 heart attacks to go along with the almost 400 murders he has solved.

The crime on the TV show is solved in a slow, methodical manner, which to me reflects Joe’s personality. And I do believe it is that mannerism that made him successful in a field most of us would not care to be in.

I’ve written of crime stories from other TV shows, and sometimes the dramatic effect they try to create is a bit much for even me. I have to sort through the whole thing, to come up with what really happened and what they dramatize, incorrectly, as happening. It’s refreshing to watch Joe and know I don’t have to do that, that what he presents is what actually went down.

You have an idea of what the men in blue (although as a detective Joe wore a suit and tie) go through in their daily lives in the most horrific of police work.

Frankly when Joe retired I don’t know how he adjusted to normal life. To adjust to the fact there would not be those unexpected phone calls at all hours of the day and night. He probably sat up in bed in the middle of the night thinking he heard the phone ring. Or to just go down to the local restaurant for coffee, hear the police siren, and run outside to jump in his car, and then realize it was not his case anymore.

I have a lot of respect for Joe, because when our son was in the DA’s office, he probably had to look at over 200 dead bodies. You just don’t walk out of the coroner’s office, and suddenly be normal again. There is an adjustment. And Joe had to do that almost twice as much as our son. You do walk around looking normal on the outside until your inside catches up with your outside.

Not sure anybody ever told you thanks Joe, but I am. I have an idea what you went through.

Not everybody could have done what you did, Joe Kenda.


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