What can we learn from procedural cop shows on TV?

Everybody loves to watch a good cop show and luckily we are inundated with them nowadays. They are all basically the same, you start with a murder/incident, somebody is very helpful to the police early on, this person is generally the murderer they then find the main suspect who looks like he’s definitely done it, all the evidence is pointing toward him but in the end, he is actually found to be innocent because of the fantastic detective skills of the lead character.

Whether you watch CSI Miami with the lead character Horatio Cane, NCIS: LA with Special Agent G Callan, or Hawaii Five-O with Lieutenant Steve McGarrett you’ll notice that they all act similarly. They are all rebels, they don’t go by the book and disobey orders on a day to day basis, if somebody acted like this in real life they would have lost their job years ago and probably have been court marshaled and sent to jail for endangering the lives of innocent civilians with their crazy pursuits. Randomly firing in the streets and crashing into everything in your way when driving doesn’t tend to go down well in real life!

They also have a sixth sense and can pick a theory out of thin air; they will have a suspect banged to rights, evidence, eyewitnesses, the lot! However, for some reason the main character won’t be happy with this, he’ll think they are missing something and end up arresting and convicting somebody totally different. In reality, if the police actually had a case on somebody where they could win it in court they would take them to court, never woulda policeman be allowed to release said the suspect and chase somebody totally different.

Next up we have the technology, TV shows are very good at making things look realistic but at the same time actually being totally made up. An example of this would be in NCIS: LA where they will take an iPad, press a few buttons on it frantically, use the GPS and magically create a 3D image of LA where they can see their chosen suspect driving around. Anything can be done on computers in a TV show; all it takes is for a geeky looking person to hit a keyboard for ten seconds if only real life was the same.

Finally, there is a criminal defense lawyer. This character is generally hated and disrespected by most people in the show, they are seen as having the easy job whilst your average detective is out all hours of the day running around the streets, shooting bad guys, interviewing suspects, collecting evidence, and solving the case. In the real world, detectives sit at a desk and ring people up whilst writing reports on what they are doing. The CSI team will collect the evidence and the lawyers will have the tough job of actually converting the case so that the suspect is in fact sent to prison, they have the hardest job of all. But anyway, it’s only TV isn’t it…

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