While police shows aren’t the best
sources for police procedural behavior,
they frequently illustrate the wrong way
of doing things.  This observation is not
meant to be a criticism.  When it comes
to entertainment, watching TV cops
doing everything the right way would be
pretty boring.  While enjoying the humor
in the screw-ups, you should realize the
realism associated with the screw-ups.  

I was watching an episode of the
The
Closer
starring Kyra Sedwick.  The shows
opens with Lieutenant Provenza (C.W.
Bailey) conducting a murder for hire sting
on a female suspect.  Following the
arrest, Lieutenant Provenza and
Lieutenant Flynn (Tony Denison) are
transporting the suspect and the
evidence back to Los Angeles.  While in
route, they stop at a roadside restaurant
for lunch.  Provenza makes certain all the
evidence, i.e. video tape of the sting;
money, and the would be victim’s wallet,
used to convince the suspect that the hit
had been done, are all secured in the
locked trunk of their car.  Provenza even
breaks out the steering wheel club as
Lieutenant Flynn teases Provenza for his
paranoia.

Inside the restaurant, the two detectives
choose a table in front of a large window
directly overlooking their car.  So far so
good, but, the entertainment part of this
wouldn’t work if the detectives, or one of
them, had seated himself to maintain
constant observation of the car.  The two
detectives are seated with their backs to
the window.  The suspect, who up to this
point had not exhibited much intelligence,
begins questioning the detectives about
the importance of the evidence against
her as she, seated opposite the
detectives, watches two car thieves break
into the unmarked police car and drive
away.  It was pretty easy to see what
was coming, but the actors’
performances made for a very funny and
entertaining scene.  I laughed and
nodded as I thought about the realism
the scene really portrayed.  
Television History
The First 75 Years
Diagnosis: Murder (USA, 1993-2001) -
Diagnosis Murder is a mystery/medical/crime
drama television series starring Dick Van Dyke
as Dr. Mark Sloan, a medical doctor who
solves crimes with the help of his son, a
homicide detective played by his real-life son
Barry Van Dyke. The series began as a
spin-off of Jake and the Fatman (Dr. Mark
Sloan made his first appearance in episode
4.19 "It Never Entered My Mind"), became a
series of three TV movies, and then a weekly
television series that debuted on CBS on
October 29, 1993.
The Fugitive (USA, 1963-1967 and
2000-2001) - The Fugitive is an American
television series produced by QM Productions
and United Artists Television that aired on ABC
from 1963-1967. David Janssen starred as Dr.
Richard Kimble, an innocent man from the
fictional town of Stafford, Indiana, who is falsely
convicted of his wife's murder and given the
death penalty. En route to death row, Kimble's
train derails and crashes, allowing him to
escape and begin a cross-country search for
the real killer, a "one-armed man" (played by
Bill Raisch). At the same time, Dr. Kimble is
hounded by the authorities, most notably by
Stafford Police Lieutenant Philip Gerard (Barry
Morse).  
Page 4
Police Shows
Police Television Shows
Past and Present
Page 4
The detectives in the Los Angeles Police
Department's Major Crimes division are
still reeling from the departure of Brenda
Leigh Johnson and the realization that
Captain Raydor is now in charge. Unlike
their previous chief, Raydor is determined
to lead the department with a more
team-oriented approach, sharing the
credit with the people with whom she
works. Raydor's hardest job, however,
will be gaining the full trust and
confidence of her detectives, who aren't
quick to forget her long history of
internal investigations targeting them and
their previous boss. Especially
troublesome is Provenza, who has a
difficult time taking orders from someone
he doesn't think knows as much as he
does.
Cop Shows Can Be
Educational
by Barry M. Baker
When you become a police officer, you’re
going to receive instruction about the
absolute importance of evidence chain of
custody.  Whenever the chain of custody
is broken, the admissibility of the
evidence, assuming it’s subsequently
recovered, will be in serious jeopardy.  If
the evidence in question is susceptible to
any change or alteration, the admissibility
of that evidence will, in all probability, be
denied.

Okay, let’s look at the real world of police
and police behavior.  I guarantee that you’
ll work, at some point, with a police
officer who rarely turns off the engine of
his or her police car.  If the officer stops
in at a convenience store in cold weather,
the officer will let the engine run, with the
key in the ignition, to keep the heater
running; in warm weather the air
conditioner will apply.  In weather where
neither apply, the engine will still run,
because that officer is lazy, incompetent,
and naïve in the belief that people won’t
steal police cars.  If you think that officer’
s behavior would be any different if the
trunk were packed with evidence, you’d
be wrong.

The realism in
The Closer scene is
educational, because it illustrates that
even though Provenza took reasonable
steps in securing the evidence, those
steps proved to be insufficient.    

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