Chicago PD star LaRoyce Hawkins has praised the show's eighth season for helping to "reimagine policing a little bit" and "uplifting the image of the Black man" after a year of social change.
LaRoyce, who plays Officer Kevin Atwater on the NBC show, also teased that the final episode will "challenge" the team.
"The intelligence unit has been working to bring down a powerful crime ring, and LaRoyce shares that "it’s a perfect crime ring to really challenge [the unit’s] integrity."
MORE: Chicago Fire's Miranda Rae Mayo reveals future on the show and the crazy cliffhanger finale
WATCH: Chicago PD: Atwater and Ruzek asked to arrest a cop for shooting a non-threatening kid
Speaking to TV Insider, the star praised show bosses for "really attacking some of the most authentic and genuine storytelling devices."
"Even though it was shortened because of the pandemic, I think we find ourselves learning the most about ourselves. That’s why this season has been so special to me specifically," he said.
"It’s powerful television,” he adds, "but at the same time, I think we can reimagine policing a little bit and we can uplift the image of the Black man a little bit."
MORE: See the cast of Chicago PD and their real-life partners
Season eight tackled the inequalities people of color face every day from the police forces that are supposed to protect the communities.
The show chose to tackle the inequalities people of color face every day
Fans saw Deputy Superintendent Miller (played by Nicole Ari Parker) attempt to push for reform, including the punishment of an officer who murdered a young black man at a routine traffic stop.
In April police officer Derek Chauvin, 45, was convicted on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after the murder of George Floyd on 25 May 2020.
The footage of Chauvin kneeling for nine minutes on Floyd's neck gave new energy to the Black Lives Matter movement, and protests were held across the US and around the world, including in London and Berlin.
Following the protests, TV shows have been forced to reckon with the realities of institutional and unconscious racism.
LaRoyce has praised the show for tackling the issues
LaRoyce's co-star Marina Squerciati previously also praised the show for handling the topics, admitting that "not mentioning it or dealing with it on the show would be irresponsible."
"[Showrunner Rick Eid] has brought it to the forefront, so it's important that we do address it," she added.
"It's not perfect, but we are addressing it. It would be hard to turn a blind eye to all the things that are happening right now."
One Chicago airs on NBC Wednesdays from 8/7c.
Read more HELLO! US stories here