19 Apr 2013

Favorite Police Shows-Connecting Police and the Public

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While some police shows present a negative view of policing, our favorite police shows tend to present the most admired aspects of policing which ends up connecting the police and the public. Youngsters are presented with exciting heroes that encourage them to seek out careers in policing or criminal justice science. Though some in the policing profession occasionally grumble about myths that can be perpetuated, the recognition that their chosen career is a challenging, complex profession is welcomed.

Cop Shows Real Police Officers Watch

When questioned on the shows that those in the policing profession find to be most accurate in depicting their profession, some selections will surprise the average viewer. Barney Miller and Hill Street Blues were among those frequently mentioned, as was Adam 12 and Homicide-Life on the Street. As a patrol officer, I could certainly relate to the mounds of paperwork depicted in the show Barney Miller! Very few police shows cover that aspect of policing that is ever present across the entire career of an officer.

The documentary shows like First 48, Cold Case and 48 Hours are also among the top rated shows watched by those in the policing profession. These shows are commonly watched to compare investigative techniques, observe body language of victims, witnesses, and suspects being interviewed. Detectives and investigators are always looking for information and techniques to add to their “toolbox” to help them solve the cases that come their way. Part of the appeal of these shows is to be able to follow the case from beginning to end, including the twists and turns within the court system.

Super Hero vs. Ordinary Hero

Favorite police shows tend to present larger than life characters dramatically saving the day, stopping the bad guy just as the episode ends. In real life, often times it is the unseen and often unnoticed actions like checking on an elderly person on their beat or being a buddy to an under-privileged child that makes policing such a heroic career. As important as catching the bad guys is, often, more than expected, demonstrating being a good guy and what that means makes all the difference in the life of those who come into contact with the officer.

Perhaps the best thing about shows like Blue Bloods, Third Watch, NYPD Blue and others is that these favorite police shows are a reminder of the humanity of those in the policing profession. In seeing a uniform, a badge and a gun, it is all too easy to forget that there is a regular, everyday human that wears them. As humans, we all have days we aren’t at our best, even when we mean well. Some days we’re tired and grumpy, snapping at others. Some days we are deeply wounded by horrific events and yet must continue on. Sometimes we feel fear and have personal experiences that affect how we deal with things. It is a good thing to be reminded that police are human after all.

Police Shows Remain Favorites

Though trends within television ebb and flow; police shows maintain a popular subject matter for the television industry to exploit. As challenging, frustrating, and rewarding as the policing profession is for both those called to it and the public, the fascination with catching bad guys will continue to capture the imagination of the public for a variety of reasons. There are probably as many reasons for it as there are people.

As we close down the week, the Badge Guys would like to hear your thoughts on police shows. Could it be that each of us has the remnants of the kid playing cops and robbers, the age old battle of good versus evil seeking reinforcement in such a complex culture full of confusion and conflict?

Why do you think police shows remain popular? What is it about police shows that attract you to watch them? Does it make a difference to you if the show is truly realistic or is purely action and drama? I welcome your thoughts and comments below.

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