Enquiring minds want to know.
By
Dan Barrett

28 Mar 2019 - 5:24 PM  UPDATED 16 Apr 2019 - 4:38 PM

Opening up the SBS VICELAND mailbag, there’s one question that we’re always asked. And today, my fellow Brooklyn Nine-Nine fans, we have the answer you’ve all been writing in about.

Does Brooklyn Nine-Nine really exist? 

Obviously, this is a sitcom with characters and scripts. It’s not a gritty fly-on-the-wall documentary. But, is there really a 99th Precinct of the New York Police Department? And if so, is it in Brooklyn?  Well, friends, today we can deliver the answer:

No.

But, the reason why not is kind of interesting in its own right.

How many NYPD precincts are there?

Currently the New York Police Department has 77 precincts around the city; 23 of them are in Brooklyn alone. In regards to the naming of precincts, most of them have numerical names, but there are three in Manhattan that have proper names: Midtown South Precinct, Midtown North Precinct and Central Park Precinct.

The numerical naming actually numbers precincts up to 123, but there are only 77 - why the discrepancy? It comes down to forward thinking in a city that has been around for a while now. Initially, there were gaps in the numbers issued in order to make way for additional precincts to be created as time went on. Which makes sense. But while some precincts have been added since they were originally designated back in 1898, others have been abolished or merged with nearby precincts. For example, the 74th Precinct in Brooklyn used to only cover Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, but they are now covered by the 78th Precinct.

Where is Brooklyn Nine-Nine really?

While there is no 99th Precinct, all the evidence points to the fact that the Nine-Nine is really the 78th Precinct. The strongest argument for this is that the show uses the building of the 78th for its exterior shots. Damning evidence, we can all agree.

This is how the real police station appears on Google Street View:

And, of course, on the show:

Also, the map of the precinct, as seen on the show, is the same as the 78th Precinct:

Other external shots on the show are generally filmed at Universal Studios’ backlot on the Brownstone Street and New York Street sets. 

Why not just call it Brooklyn Seven-Eight?

First of all: dumb name. But, secondly, they actually can’t because of NYPD policy.

Often TV shows work with police for access to vehicles and other types of production assistance. The NYPD has a policy that in exchange for their co-operation, the productions need to adhere to certain rules. One of them is that a police precinct cannot be named after a real precinct. Hence, the Brooklyn Nine-Nine. 

Similarly, New York-set cop show Naked City was set in the fictional 65th Precinct, Car 54, Where Are You? was set in the 53rd Precinct and NYPD Blue was set in the 15th Precinct (it used the 9th Precinct’s exterior). 

You can watch Brooklyn Seven-Eight, *ahem*, Brooklyn Nine-Nine fast-tracked on Friday nights at 8:30pm on SBS VICELAND with episodes also streaming at SBS On Demand. Here is episode 11 from season 6:

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