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  • Writer's pictureDoctor Detroit

The Blue Pigs

Updated: Mar 13

National Police Week will be observed starting May 14th of this year. In honor of this occasion, I'd like to take fellow old-school Detroiters down memory lane to reminisce about Les Cochons Bleus (pronounced Lay Co-shawn Bleh), which translates to The Blue Pigs. For many, hearing that name brings a smile to their faces and evokes cherished memories.

In 1970, Les Cochons Bleus was formed under Police Commissioner John Nichols, who bestowed upon them their unique name. He took the term "pig," often used disparagingly for police officers, and gave it a classy twist with a French pronunciation. Originally, the rock band wanted to be called the Funky Fuzz but had to embrace the name they were given. The band initially comprised five members, all Detroit Police officers. Charles Henley and Mark Boatright played guitar, Gregory Hudson handled the conga drum and composed music, Hugh Burrell played bass, and Rod Gray managed the sound. The officers' mission was to promote the Detroit Police Department during a time of strained relations with the community. They aimed to humanize police officers through music, performing mostly at schools and civic functions. Through their songs, they emphasized love, understanding, safety, and racial harmony, crucial messages for the era.

As many struggled to pronounce Les Cochons Bleus, the band adopted the simpler moniker "The Blue Pigs." By 1979, they were reaching approximately 500 people daily with their music and messages. In 1981, the national reality television show "Real People" featured The Blue Pigs, introducing America to Detroit's unique approach to community engagement.

Over time, Hugh "Boss Hog" Burrell became the band's frontman, and they primarily played Motown classics. In 1986, the group discovered that a significant number of schoolchildren knew where guns were kept in their homes. Shocked by this revelation, The Blue Pigs urged children to ask their parents to secure and hide their firearms. At the end of their performances, they always conveyed a message of love to the children.

I fondly recall The Blue Pigs visiting my middle school during the crack epidemic, delivering important messages about staying away from drugs through their upbeat songs. Even the coolest students couldn't resist singing along with them. Unfortunately, in 2002, Detroit Police Chief Jerry A. Oliver disbanded the group to allocate more officers to street duty.

Here's to the goodwill ambassadors who broke social barriers, enhanced the image of the Detroit Police Department, encouraged children to stay out of trouble, and fostered better community relations—Thank You!

Detroit Police Officers Hugh Burrell and Charlie Henley bumping hips in March of 1973 at Coffey Junior High School.

The Blue Pigs in 1979.


3 days ago

As I perused the pictures in the gallery and read each one of the highlighted stories, I was overcome with emotions of so many memories from childhood. I attended the book signing at NEXT CHAPTER BOOKS on 04/10/2024, and was in awe of the depth of the research that you conducted. Thank you for the many memories.



Thank you for the trip down memory lane.

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