National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Show ‘COPS’ – 25 Years on TV

From the American Conservative:

The show “COPS” is celebrating its 25th season on television, the opening strains of its signature opener as familiar as the images of mascara-stained prostitutes, half-naked wife beaters, and obscured faces of a thousand different men, planted in the asphalt by the boot of Johnny Law himself.

After all these years, the gratuitous flash of  “viewer discretion advised,” followed by the COPS trademark and the peal of sirens, still marks a half hour of testosterone-fueled, fast food entertainment, or a prompt to quickly change the channel, depending on who’s on the other side of the remote control.

For teenagers, voyeurs, and red-blooded law-and-order types who’ve made this show one of the longest running in American history, the pioneer cinéma vérité format ratifies the correct order of things—beginning smartly with heroes and villains, and ending with the crank of handcuffs and the door of a squad car slamming on another case, closed. …

“What disturbs me is that the audience is led to believe that they’re getting a fair peek at ‘real policing,’ but they don’t realize they’re seeing a distorted picture,” said Tim Lynch, director of the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice, who guesses among the throwaways are “awful mistakes, incompetence, or misconduct.”

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