In the season 5 premiere of Southland, Officer John Cooper clashes with his new boot, Gary Steele, a vet from Afghanistan. Lydia struggles to balance detective work and motherhood. Ben Sherman falls in with a sketchy crowd of cops, while Sammy Bryant is trapped in a hellish custody battle with Tammi.
After Mendoza is injured in a drive-by, Ben takes it upon himself to solve the case, much to Sammy's dismay. Lydia regains her footing as a detective while investigating the murder of a female boxer's husband. Tensions between Cooper and Steele finally come to a head during a traffic stop-gone-sideways.
A breakdown in the LAPD's dispatch system makes a difficult job even harder for the cops, all of whom are already grappling with communication issues. Lydia, in a moment of weakness, reaches out to her old flame, Terrell. John is assigned a new partner; Ben and Sammy's partnership is strained just as Ben makes a romantic connection on the job.
A victim slow cooked to the bone has Lydia and Reuben tracking down the killer. A day full of strange calls helps John and Lucero settle into their new found friendship. A bizarre bank robbery see's the prime suspects throwing money out into the streets as they make their escape, with Ben and Sammy responding to the case.
John's decision to leave the LAPD suddenly becomes real when he realizes what his life will hold for him. Lydia begins corresponding with a man she'd sent to death row earlier in her career. Sammy is involved in a heroic act and becomes a local celebrity. Ben is about to get a drug dealer arrested but has a dubious decision to make. Dewey is put in danger when pursuing someone on foot.
Lydia is shook to the core when she investigates the death of a baby. Sammy gets called in for questioning over his spit with Tammi. Cooper seeks solace from Hicks after a difficult day but doesn't get anything. Ben and Brooke step things up a notch even though he continues to see Elena.
Sammy can't cope with the lie he's told. John has to face up to past issues when he tries to save Hicks. Ben and Elena's relationship progresses to the next level. Lydia and Ruben track down a John Doe.
Gangsters from all over show up at the funeral of a major drug dealer. The result is chaos spreading through the streets, however the force soon has to realize that the greatest threat they will face is within it's own ranks. Sgt. Hill's soon is murdered and the case is drug related, Lydia and Ruben investigate and uncover police corruption with neither of them aware of how to handle it. Ben takes matters into his own hands as he refuses to believe that Sammy didn't destroy the tape. John is getting more and more alone.
Cooper and Lucero are kidnapped and held hostage by a pair of tweakers. The whole force joins the search for the pair. Ben tries throwing Sammy off the trail as she continues to look for Strokeface. Brooke is acting highly irrationally.
John copes with the aftermath of his kidnapping. Sammy closes in on the real robbers. Lydia continues to pursue John’s kidnappers and becomes more intimate with Russell.