Deputy Chief Howard also served as the Acting Assistant Chief of Operations following Asst. Chief Taylor's murder in “White Lies, Part 1” of Major Crimes, Season 5. He returned to lead the Special Operations Bureau at the end of “Shockwave, Part 2”.
During The Closer and at the beginning of Major Crimes, he was a Special Agent for the FBI and the liaison officer to the LAPD. He worked as part of the FBI's Organized and Serial Crimes Unit based in Los Angeles.
Character Information Edit
Federal Bureau of Investigation Edit
At the start of The Closer, Fritz is introduced as an old friend of Brenda's during her first case (“The Closer (Pilot)”). At this point, he had been working in L.A. for three years, although he originally received his training from the FBI in Washington D.C.
Brenda is told she will not be able to obtain DNA results from the LAPD for many weeks, so she contacts associates at the FBI. Fritz notices that the results are for her and personally delivers them.
From this moment onwards, Fritz goes on to provide the Major Crimes Division (formerly the Priority Homicide Division) access to FBI resources through his many contacts. However, this causes some friction between Fritz and Brenda and he stops giving her squad special treatment when his colleagues start making fun of him in (“Homewrecker”).
In cases where Major Crimes works with the FBI, Fritz often acts as a liaison agent, much to the amusement of the MCD detectives.
In “The Ecstasy and the Agony”, Howard responded as the FBI - LAPD Liaison to a homicide which was being investigated by the Major Crimes Division, along with FBI Special Agent Morris who was the lead investigator on the FBI's part. The victim was a Israeli born naturalized U.S. citizen who was supposed to give a testimony in federal court over illegal drug trafficking committed by his cousin but because the victim had not yet testified, he was not under federal protection. The FBI's involvement caused some problems for the LAPD because the victim's wife felt that they had been betrayed by the FBI and therefore didn't want to cooperate. After Capt. Raydor promised the wife that Morris would be kept clear, she started cooperating.
Later, when Raydor found out that the FBI had searched a house owned by the victim's cousin and that they found the same type of weapon that was used to kill the victim, Raydor was furious with the FBI over the fact that they did not tell her that. Morris and Howard told Raydor that if they told her that, they could have jeopardized their two-year investigation into a international drug ring, a risk they could not take. Raydor promised the FBI that she would not jeopardize their investigation and hatched a plan to get the cousin out of the house so Det. Sanchez and Det. Sykes could search it and recover the weapon. The plan was a partial success, they got the cousin out of the house without alerting him of the FBI's investigation but they did not find the weapon. However, when the cousin met a "intuitive life strategist" who had been having an affair with the victim's wife along with his, both the cousin and the victim's wife started cursing each other out, inadvertently giving more evidence to support both the LAPD and the FBI in their cases.
In “Do Not Disturb”, Fritz is shown to be worried about politics while investigating a murder connected to an Indian diplomat. His adherence to policy causes him great annoyance by the squad with Lt. Provenza making snide comments about looking for clues and Fritz kissing the diplomat's ass. However, when the diplomat goes too far, Fritz loses his temper and threatens to have him deported despite threats to his job.
During “Two Options”, Fritz works side-by-side with the LAPD to rescue two kidnapped children and their mother from the husband, who had kidnapped the three and murdered his parents who were in witness protection. Fritz insisted on leading the charge with SWAT instead of Andy Flynn, telling him to trust him as he could do "what needs to be done." During the raid, the hostages were rescued and Fritz killed the suspect who was firing at them with a submachine gun. After the raid, Taylor offers him the job of Deputy Chief in charge of the Special Operations Bureau. According to Taylor, at this point Fritz had been in the FBI for twenty-seven years and could retire with full benefits to start a second career with the LAPD. Fritz promised to consider the idea, but wasn't sure if he would take it due to Brenda getting offered a great new job in Washington, DC.
In “Sweet Revenge”, Fritz has agreed to take the job as Deputy Chief of SOB and is at the point of retiring from the FBI to join the LAPD. Before he fully retires, Fritz aids the LAPD in solving one more case as an FBI agent. At the end of the episode, Fritz suffers a heart attack and has Tao secretly take him to the hospital to be treated, requiring Fritz to wear a pacemaker as shown in “Zoo Story”, something that he keeps from Brenda.
Los Angeles Police Department Edit
- NOTE: Fritz can be seen in multiple uniforms during his day-to-day activities. When he coordinates and takes part in special operations, he can be seen in the Special Operations Bureau's "Class B" tactical uniform, with focus on comfort and durability. It features the patch of SOB and subdued (black) rank insignia, which makes the officers rank harder to detect at longer distances. The "Class B" uniform has lately become his preferred uniform of choice. During more official duties, like when he was the Acting Assistant Chief, he can be seen wearing a "Class A" everyday uniform.
Having retired from the FBI after 27 years, he is appointed to the rank of Deputy Chief by Assistant Chief Russell Taylor to command the Special Operations Bureau (SOB) at the end of “Sweet Revenge” in Season 3 of Major Crimes.
Shortly after accepting the Deputy Chief position, he falls victim to a heart attack. During this time, Lt. Michael Tao became privy to this, when Fritz asked him to drive him to the hospital. He is told by his doctor to reduce the stress in his life and to change his diet if he wants to recover fully. He is also told that he should think about retiring or taking disability leave because going back to work could possibly risk his life. He ignores these suggestions and returns to work wearing a pacemaker and eating blood thinners to reduce the clotting in his arteries, though he keeps this secret from all but Tao. He has not even told Brenda about his heart attack or that he wears a pacemaker.
After this event, Lt. Michael Tao often tells him to "take it easy" when he gets agitated or stressed from the job, often confusing his colleagues.
The timing of him accepting the Deputy Chief position could have come at a better time considering his health. His first major operations immediately after accepting the position were the rescue of a kidnapped police officer (“Zoo Story”) and containing a possible gang war after a gang banger was acquitted of murder and released from jail (“Trial by Fire”), both of which put him under serious stress.
Acting Assistant Chief Edit
In “White Lies, Part 1”, Fritz was assigned as the Acting Assistant Chief of Operations after the Los Angeles County Courthouse shoot-out which left Assistant Chief Taylor, among others, dead. Although having taken the position, he noted to the Major Crimes Division that he had no interest in being permanently promoted to Assistant Chief and being Russell Taylor's replacement.
- Although from this point onward, he was the Acting Assistant Chief, his rank insignia still identified him as a Deputy Chief. From “Heart Failure” onward, he had the badge of an Assistant Chief.
In “Heart Failure”, Fritz is responsible for overseeing the departments active shooter response training. It also became apparent that Deputy Chief Winnie Davis is not very accepting of his position as the Acting Assistant Chief, claiming that the department lacks firm leadership under his command, most likely because of his history in the FBI and the fact that the department would not accept an "outsider" like him as the Assistant Chief on a permanent basis. This was further confirmed in “Quid Pro Quo”, when Capt. Raydor and Cmdr. Mason were discussing their possible promotion to Assistant Chief, and Mason only mentioned himself, Raydor, and Davis to be in the race to Assistant Chief because if Fritz was even considered for the part, he would have already been permanently promoted to that position.
In “Intersection”, Howard assigned the Major Crimes Division an investigation into a hit-and-run, as Los Angeles is having a war between cars and bikes, and the city has become the number one in the nation's hit-and-runs. Because of this, the LAPD's Traffic Division's are overwhelmed with cases, and too few drivers are getting arrested and too many children are being killed. Fritz wants to turn that around, and starting from that night, the hit-and-run situation in L.A. has become a major crime.
In “Shockwave, Part 1”, Fritz is at a leadership conference in Charlotte, NC, resulting in Deputy Chief Winnie Davis coordinating the efforts of all the divisions of the LAPD. After the bombing at the end of the episode, Chief Pope recalls Fritz to LA in while Davis takes his place (“Shockwave, Part 2”). Fritz aids the squad in stopping Cristian Ortiz and survives the bombing of the Major Crimes murder room. Afterwards, Fritz takes Sharon to the Assistant Chief's office where it is revealed that Leo Mason got the promotion and has been assigned as the Director of Operations. At the end of the episode, Fritz returned to his original position and rank of Deputy Chief in charge of SOB, after spending eight months as the Acting Assistant Chief.
- NOTE: Acting and interim positions are temporary, and the person occupying the position on an acting or interim basis remains in the position only until confirmed to be the replacement or until replaced, at which time they return to their original position.
Return to SOB Edit
When Chief Mason was promoted, he allowed Fritz to retain his job as Deputy Chief in charge of SOB, something Fritz is obviously content with. Before departing, Fritz congratulates Sharon, presumably aware of her promotion to Commander moments later.
In “By Any Means, Part 3”, Fritz takes part in the show Major Crimes puts on for Phillip Stroh and his accomplice Dylan Baxter. As part of their plan, Fritz claims that he's pulling back LAPD resources, including the security detail on Gwendolyn Stroh and to be reducing the detail on Rusty Beck and Gustavo Wallace. Fritz and the detectives "argue" about Fritz's strategy which puts Rusty and Gus into greater danger. As part of the show, Provenza tells the departing Fritz to "save your apologies for the dead" and Andy and Tao note that Fritz is not pulling back the detail on Brenda, Fritz's own wife.
Having watched the confrontation, Stroh buys Fritz's performance completely and grows worried as he had wanted the LAPD's resources stretched thin while Fritz is consolidating them. Fritz later prepares his forces in case Dylan takes the bait.
In “By Any Means, Part 4”, Fritz insists on sending in SOB when Dylan is located, but makes it clear to Provenza that he also wants Stroh dead and will not allow him to escape. During the standoff at Dylan's house, Fritz uses a bullhorn to order the young man to surrender, resulting in Dylan panicking, opening fire on the officers and getting shot to death by Tao.
After Dylan's dossier points to the airport as Stroh's escape plan, Fritz leads his forces alongside the vast majority of the LAPD to surround the airport in waiting for Stroh's arrival. Mason ultimately gives Fritz full command of the situation instead of Provenza, seeing it as an SOB situation instead of Major Crimes. Following Stroh's death, Fritz tells Rusty that Brenda had a hard time processing the news as well. Appearing to realize that Rusty killed Stroh instead of Provenza, Fritz makes a point of reassuring Rusty that Stroh's death was justified.
At the end of the episode, Fritz, in a suit and tie, joins in Julio's promotion ceremony. Fritz is included in the list of people that Provenza gives as the people who will ensure that Major Crimes keeps bringing down killers in the future.
Smart, well-liked and a true gentleman, Fritz Howard is presented as the opposite to Brenda Johnson and her previous lover, Will Pope. His kindness, especially when it comes to Brenda, is seen in the first episode “The Closer (Pilot)” when he personally delivers her much needed DNA results. At times, it is also seen as a fault, however his desire in being able to please Brenda shows that he will ignore professional boundaries and even risk his career in order to help her close her cases. Once he begins dating Brenda, he is seen to be patient and humble in tolerating her work addiction and is willing to wait several hours or days so that he can see her.
Fritz sometimes does get annoyed with Brenda, especially when their work crosses division lines and she does not uphold her end of the deal. However, they are always determined to keep their professional and personal lives separate.
His kindness is also demonstrated when he delays his moving-in with Brenda, so that her mother does not find out. Although, he does become irritated that he is not able to meet both Brenda's parents after they have moved in together and why they must use separate phones - something which proves disastrous for him. He also does not like being left to entertain and care for Brenda's parents when they do come to visit, due to the perceived hostility that he will receive from her father by ignoring traditional family values.
The revelation of having two D.U.Is on his licence proves as a shock to Brenda later on in the series and something that contrasts highly with Fritz's perceived character. His angry outburst towards Brenda in explaining why he received them shows a markedly different side to him that viewers have not been able to see before.
When Commander McGinnis asks if Fritz is a bureaucrat, the Major Crimes squad tells her he's not so bad for an FBI agent. Despite this, at times Fritz is shown to be worried about policy such as during “Do Not Disturb” when dealing with an Indian diplomat. During that encounter, Fritz's help hindered the investigation more than helped due to his adherence to policy. This led to snide comments from Provenza about how they are actually searching for clues unlike him and that while he's been kissing the diplomat's ass, the diplomat is not doing the same, causing them issues. However, despite this, Fritz proved himself to be willing to go against the rules by detaining the diplomat with force when he attacked his daughter in the police station despite threats to his job.
Brenda Leigh Johnson Edit
After being attacked in “Fantasy Date”, whilst investigating a victim's house, Brenda phones Fritz and is unable to confidently hide the shock from him. He subsequently shows up at the Parker Center to take her home and take care of her for the night, showing an early insight into his feelings for her.
With the theme of Season Two being partnerships, Fritz and Brenda's relationship slowly becomes stronger despite being occasionally strained, due to Brenda's commitment to her work and tactic of delaying personal matters in favor for her cases. This is seen when the arrival of Brenda's mother, Wille Rae, delays Fritz being able to move-in with Brenda. He has to keep all his possessions in a U-Haul trailer parked outside Brenda's house, so that her mother does not find out resulting in them both having to constantly cover their tracks about their relationship, much to Fritz's embarrassment in “Mom Duty”. Despite this, Brenda's mother reveals that she knows of their relationship and approves and promises not to tell Brenda's father about it, much to Brenda's delight.
On Brenda's birthday in “Aftertaste”, he sends her a huge bouquet of flowers accompanied with a card which is read by Provenza, "Happy Birthday. You're 40 years young and I love you."
In “Grave Doubt”, after accidentally picking up the wrong phone, Fritz ends up talking to Brenda's father, infuriating Brenda. She is fearful of her father's reaction and is later resolved to read in his letter that it is of forgiveness and happiness for her, rather than anger.
At the start of Season 3, Fritz along with the rest of the squad are increasingly alarmed by Brenda's symptoms that suggest she is gravely ill. Despite refusing to see a doctor, in “Four to Eight”, Fritz eventually convinces her to go suspecting that she is pregnant, something which terrifies Brenda. She is diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and will be able to have children, much to the excitement of her parents, especially her mother. Fritz comforts Brenda after learning her diagnosis, by which it is reversible through means of ovarian drilling, and ensures that she will recover fully. Following this, he proposes to her in “Manhunt” saying that he can not imagine life without her.
Later on, in “'Til Death Do Us Part One”, whilst trying to arrange multi-car insurance, Brenda finds out that Fritz has two D.U.I's from some years earlier and is a recovering alcoholic, contradicting his earlier admission that he is "allergic" to alcohol.
He is called "Fritzy" by Brenda as a nickname.
Fritz also knows of Brenda's and Will Pope's previous affair in Washington, D.C. His relationship with Pope is somewhat awkward and uncomfortable due to this. It is not known if this awkwardness continues during his employment with the LAPD, with his close professional relationship with the Chief.
In Season 3 of Major Crimes, Fritz tells the team that Brenda is considering a new job in Washington, DC, but given his new position in the LAPD, its unclear what Brenda did about the job or how their marriage was affected. He also now hides a heart attack from his wife and his need for a pacemaker. Dialogue in later episodes shows that the two remain married and suggests that Brenda remained in Los Angeles with Fritz.
Fritz has one sister, named Claire who believes she is psychic. She helps Brenda with a case in Season 4 “Fate Line”. She is also a witness to Brenda and Fritz's wedding. She is unmarried.
Fritz's parents died at some unspecified time before he met Brenda, and left cash for Fritz and his sister, Claire. Fritz used this money to pay for Brenda's lawyer when she was being sued.
|The Closer Characters|
|Brenda Leigh Johnson • Sharon Raydor • Fritz Howard • Will Pope • Russell Taylor • Louie Provenza • Andy Flynn • Michael Tao • David Gabriel • Julio Sanchez • Irene Daniels • Buzz Watson • Dr. Fernando Morales|
|Major Crimes Characters|
|Sharon Raydor • Louie Provenza • Andy Flynn • Michael Tao • Julio Sanchez • Amy Sykes • Wes Nolan • Camila Paige • Buzz Watson • Rusty Beck • Russell Taylor • Leo Mason • Fritz Howard • Dr. Fernando Morales • Andrea Hobbs • Kendall|