The First 48

The First 48 best detectives: Ronnie Leatherman, Tulsa Homicide

The First 48 season 22 is now airing on A&E, giving television viewers access into the worlds of some truly exceptional police officers. There have been dozens if not hundreds of detectives that the show has been able to spotlight over the years, and as a longtime fan, I wanted to take some space to appreciate those who not only make the show the success that it is but more importantly are so great at what they do.

Disclaimer: In the interest of brevity, these features are limited to detectives who are currently being featured on The First 48 (still on the show)—otherwise I’d be writing dozens of articles and a whole essay about how Justin Ritter and Matt Frazier are my version of Batman and Robin.

Longtime The First 48 viewers know that Tulsa Homicide has a lot of impressive characters, and so this week I’m tipping my hat to Detective Ronnie Leatherman, who may be the most chill person in the history of the show. If you partnered him with Det. Scott DeMeester from Atlanta Homicide you might have the universe’s most calm team of detectives (and possibly also one of the tallest).

But quips aside it’s respectable how Leatherman is always able to maintain his temperament no matter what the job throws at him. Working homicide means a lot of difficult experiences and a lot of difficult people, and when it comes to Leatherman specifically, he’s gotten more than a few cases that test that patience. There was season 18’s “A Fighting Chance,” where all his initial witnesses were drunk. Leatherman’s only reaction was a sarcastic comment about how much he loves “drunk drama” and then he got on with it.

The First 48
Tulsa homicide detectives Jason White (left) and Ronnie Leatherman (right) interview a suspect in a scene from The First 48. (Photo Credit: Screenshot/Courtesy of A&E.)

Or there was season 17’s “Old Wounds,” where the victim’s boyfriend not only refused to give Leatherman and his partner Jason White any usable information, he decided to play stupid. The suspect tried to claim that the victim was the intended target but when White asked who her ex was, he replied with “Some guy.” Leatherman, without missing a beat, shot back “No shit, Sherlock. Her ex-boyfriend’s a guy.” He is a master of sarcasm. But that goes to show how nothing gets under his skin. Leatherman just puts his head down and grinds his cases out. The building could be on fire around him and he’d probably still be working.

The Ronnie Leatherman and Jason White partnership has also been a lot of fun to watch. They work well together because they’re both very calm and methodical; they’re sort of the contrast to the dynamic duo of Justin Ritter and Matt Frazier, who were always intense and raring to go. Leatherman and White match each other equally well both in terms of their investigative approach and their personalities. They’ve had some amusing conversations on the show—like Leatherman saying his partner’s spirit animal would be a squirrel—and one can only imagine how many others they’ve had that The First 48 doesn’t show.

One other thing that’s cool about Ronnie Leatherman is he’s an outstanding team player. Tulsa Homicide is a department where everyone’s a team player, but even in episodes that he’s not featured in, Leatherman pops up someplace. He’s so helpful that I actually get concerned when there’s a Tulsa episode that he doesn’t appear in. I just always expect him to be there. And he still is there—Leatherman backed up White in “A Beautiful Life” this season—so we can look forward to more of his intractable awesomeness in season 22.

The First 48 airs Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on A&E. Fans can also watch every episode on the A&E app with a cable provider login. For the previous article in this series, spotlighting Det. Jermaine Rogers of Mobile Homicide, click here.

Article content is (c)2020-2023 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr and on Instagram at @BFTVGram.

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