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
Television History
The First 75 Years
Page 2
Police Shows
BLUE BLOODS is a drama about a
multi-generational family of cops
dedicated to New York City law
enforcement. Frank Reagan is the New
York Police Commissioner and heads both
the police force and the Reagan brood.  
He runs his department as diplomatically
as he runs his family, even when dealing
with the politics that plagued his
unapologetically bold father, Henry,
during his stint as Chief. A source of
pride and concern for Frank is his eldest
son Danny, a seasoned detective, family
man and Iraq War vet who on occasion
uses dubious tactics to solve cases with
his loyal and tough partner, Detective
Jackie Curatola. The Reagan women in
the family include Erin, a N.Y. Assistant
D.A., who also serves as the legal
compass for her siblings and father, and
single parent to her teenage daughter
Nicky; and Linda, Danny's supportive
wife. Jamie is the youngest Reagan, a
recent grad of Harvard Law and the
family's "golden boy." Unable to deny the
family tradition, Jamie has decided to give
up a lucrative future in law and follow in
the family footsteps as a cop.
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.    
Homicide: Life on the Street is an American
police procedural television series chronicling
the work of a fictional version of the Baltimore
Police Department's Homicide Unit. It ran for
seven seasons (122 episodes) on NBC from
1993 to 1999, and was succeeded by a TV
movie, which also acted as the de facto series
finale. The series was originally based on
David Simon's book Homicide: A Year on the
Killing Streets. Many of the characters and
stories used throughout the show were based
on events depicted in the book.
Law & Order is an American police
procedural and legal drama television series,
created by Dick Wolf and part of the Law &
Order franchise. It originally aired on NBC and,
in syndication, on various cable networks. Law
& Order premiered on September 13, 1990,
and completed its 20th and final season on
May 24, 2010. At the time of its cancellation,
Law & Order was the longest-running crime
drama on American primetime television. Its
record of 20 seasons is a tie with Gunsmoke
(1955-1975) for the longest-running live-action
scripted American prime-time series with
ongoing characters, although it had fewer
episodes than Gunsmoke; both series have
been since surpassed by the animated series
The Simpsons.

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