What a REAL Cop Thinks of TV Cops
Many people just love reading about true crime and watching police procedural shows on television. ‘Real’ cops – not so much.
Police officers spend so many hours a day living the real thing, many of them loathe spending more time watching it, or reading about it, after a long day spent inside their squad cars.
Personally, I have been a big fan of TV cops. It started when I was a kid. In the 60’s and 70’s, Sergeant Joe Friday and Dragnet ruled the airwaves. Then came Officers Reed and Malloy on Adam-12 and I was hooked. Back then, television broadcast good, clean cops ‘n’ robbers programs. You didn’t see people getting killed and you never saw police officers writing long police reports. The crooks depicted in that era seemed to have a gentlemanly quality about them. It made for good TV, even if is was a sanitized version of the truth.
But, I really can’t say that these programs motivated me to become a police officer. They did, however, motivate me to apply for the Los Angeles Police Department. It’s my opinion that those earlier programs became the strongest recruiting tool that the Los Angeles Police Department has ever had. Since then, police procedurals have remained an integral part of the television programming landscape.
Later, it was COPS that became the first reality television program that gave the public a glimpse of ‘real-life’ police work. I think that this was the one program that a majority of police officers supported. The situations were real and something we could related to. Even the officers being filmed seemed to get a ‘kick out of it.’
Today, I’m a C.S.I. junkie. I love any show that involves crime solving sciences. As I moved from a street-oriented career to one more integrated with forensics, I became more interested in a good whodunit solved by someone in a white lab coat. I’m sure that’s because I’ve worked closely with Baltimore Police crime lab scientists over the last few years.
My hope is that television writers and book authors will continue to portray police with all their human qualities. I think that has been their intent all along. Police officers and investigators aren’t mythical creatures. They are your friends, neighbors and family members. The work they do is amazing and I can’t stop watching!