It was probably inevitable that Dick Wolf would add attorneys to his Chicago franchise. With “Chicago P.D.,” “Chicago Med” and “Chicago Fire,” he has a lock on law enforcement, doctors and first responders, so “Chicago Justice” was a no brainer. With the Chicago shows, particularly “Chicago Fire,” it’s Dick Wolf 2.0. His strict procedural formula has evolved to more ensemble, character-driven storylines. The “Justice” installment straddles both. It’s still crime, investigation, prosecution but the players in this familiar formula reveal more and think more. The result is a slower paced, issues-oriented show that adds an interesting voice to contemporary cultural debates.

The premiere episode focuses on the arrest and trial of a policeman accused of using excessive force on a black man in his custody, causing his death. Peter Stone (Philip Winchester) is the Deputy Chief of Special Prosecutions, tasked with prosecuting the officer, along with Anna Valdez (Monica Barbaro), Assistant State’s Attorney. (In a nod to his earlier work, Wolf makes Peter the son of Ben Stone, one of the New York District Attorneys from “Law & Order”). Stone and Valdez are assisted by State’s Attorney Investigators, Laura Nagel (Joelle Carter, “Justified”) and Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda, “Chicago P.D.”). Stone has a less political view of justice than Mark Jefferies (Carl Weathers), the Cook County State’s Attorney, which is a source of tension between the two.

Writing Stone as the lawyer who does not look at cases with an eye on politics is a smart and easy way to build conflict. It also makes the character relatable, as he expresses thoughtful points of view about the work he does. Speaking to Valdez he contemplates the power the office gives them: “You ever think about the power we have as prosecutors? I don’t like you, you look at me funny — I can drag you in front of a grand jury for something, anything. And so what if it gets no build? The mere act of accusing you can destroy your life.” Similarly, Dawson, a former police officer, shares his feelings about the case, telling Stone: “You know when someone needs help they dial 9-1-1. Who shows up? I tell you what. It’s not a lawyer. We show up and we don’t know what we’re going to find.” While the series has plenty of procedural elements, these moments of introspection among the characters suggests that it wants to offer a more complex take on what it means to enforce the law and to seek justice when that law is violated.

The episode also handles race with the same thoughtful complexity. The accused police officer describes his feelings in court to a conflicted Dawson: “I know I watched a black woman testify against me in court today and look at me like I’m turning my back on my people. A people who’ve been shut out of restaurants, schools, shot with fire hoses, lynched. Why does your boss have to look at me like I’m the one doing the lynching?”

By having characters ask hard questions and express doubts about the system they are committed to serve, “Chicago Justice” takes the familiar procedural into important new territory.

“Chicago Justice” premieres Sunday, March 5 at 9 p.m. EDT on NBC.

— Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned@outlook.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.