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Freeze…Don’t Move! How Accurate Are Police Dramas?

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Crime dramas are some of the most popular shows on television. As with most things on TV, reality is mixed with a large degree of fantasy. But just how much truth is combined with fiction in these programs?

Accuracy in TV Crime Dramas

Some people might be tempted to write off TV crime dramas as entirely fictional representations of real police work. However, many of these shows are written with significant input from real law enforcement officers. Some shows, like “Law and Order: SVU” produce episodes partially based on high-profile criminal cases.

Freeze How Accurate are Police DramasFictional elements are added to these stories to create an entertaining, dramatic plot that works in a standard television time format. Some of the areas that are most noticeably altered include:

  • The time frame of criminal investigations
  • The behavior of law enforcement officers
  • The relationship of law enforcement to other organizations

Criminal Investigations and Time

One of the most noticeable differences between crime dramas and real-life police work is the time frame in which investigations unfold.

In a typical crime drama episode, a crime will be discovered and solved in about an hour of viewing time. In the show, the police get critical information from every witness they interview and have conclusive DNA evidence verified immediately in a crime lab.

In the real world, witnesses may be unwilling to talk or they may not remember anything useful. Crime labs are often bogged down with samples from hundreds of cases and operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. Cases may take weeks, months or years to solve.

How TV Officers Act

It’s no secret that TV producers like to cast attractive performers. TV crime dramas are no exception.

The police officers and investigators are always impeccably dressed and groomed. Their hair is styled and they wear designer brands. In reality, police work can be dirty, demanding and very physical. Police officers prefer to wear functional, comfortable clothes so that they can accomplish their jobs and maintain a professional appearance.

TV cops are frequently shown roughing up suspects or barging into homes at a moment’s notice. In reality, police officers must painstakingly follow procedure to ensure that they abide by the laws. Everything they do must go by the book or they will risk ruining their shot at a conviction.

Police and the Press

On police TV shows, officers are portrayed as the enemies of journalists and reporters. An episode might depict a reporter who is unwilling to share information with the police and, as a result, disrupts an entire investigation.

In reality, police departments often get valuable information from the press. This is sometimes done in cooperative efforts or by issuing subpoenas for evidence.

Real Life Attorney

Just like T.V. dramas, it’s important to hire a lawyer who can fight the system. After all, police officers do have some clever tricks for their suspects. Hiring a lawyer can protect you from legal deception and keep you out of jail. Reach out to Brett A. Podolsky today by calling 713.227.0087.

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