When you become a police officer, you'll
quickly learn that everybody knows your
job better than you.  And... why
shouldn't they?  Everybody watches
television.  It's correct to say that
producers of cop shows have made
efforts to add realism and a degree of
accuracy in the way they portray certain
aspects of police work.  For example,
television dramas have educated
everyone about search warrants... well,
sort of.  You know what I'm talking
about.  The detectives are busy following
leads, so the lieutenant or the prosecutor
says to them, "You go ahead, I'll get the
warrant." – or – "I'll call in the warrant."  
In reality, if you'd wait for your lieutenant
or prosecutor to get you a warrant,
you'd be waiting until the day you retire.
A Lot of Realism...
but not really
Page 2
Police Television Shows
Past and Present
by Barry M. Baker
Page 2
To be fair, it would make for some pretty
boring television if you had to watch the
detective spend an hour preparing a
statement of probable cause for the
warrant and then another hour or two
tracking down a judge to sign the search
warrant.  Then, there's the all familiar
Miranda Warnings... "You have the right
to remain silent..."  Again, there's no
need to give a verbal Miranda Warning
when you arrest a suspect.  Additionally,
Miranda given verbally is very weak when
it comes to trial.  That's why you'll have a
Miranda form signed by your suspect
with his/her initials after each warning.

Of course, inaccuracies and shortcuts are
just part of any script for television.  As
long as inaccuracy is used only to
enhance the pace to improve
entertainment value, it's no big deal.    

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Police Shows
Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
Cops (stylized as COPS) is an American
documentary / reality legal series that follows
police officers, constables, sheriff's deputies,
federal agents and state troopers during
patrols and other police activities including
prostitution and narcotics stings. It is one of
the longest-running television programs in the
United States and, as of May 2011, the
longest-running show on Fox, following the
cancellation of America's Most Wanted after 23
This is a list of police television programs.
Dramas involving police procedural work, and
private detectives, secret agents, and the
justice system have been a mainstay of
broadcast television since the early days of
broadcasting. Shows that are not dramatic
programming are indicated (e.g. reality
television, comedy or comedy-drama).
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Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker