Throughout time, many lawmen have become famous from the tales about them as great crime fighters.

  • Wyatt Earp, along with his brothers Virgil and Morgan, were made famous for taming the violent streets of Tombstone, Arizona.
  • Pat Garrett made his name gunning down the infamous Henry McCarty who was better known by his pseudonym William H. Bonney or “Billy the Kid.”
  • From Bat Masterson to Teddy Roosevelt, lawmen have been turned into household names for their heroic deeds.

Their daring adventures were often turned into television shows and movies.  Catching the “bad guys” could be watched in millions of homes.

Fact is, that these yarns from the Wild West do make good television.  They are exciting and action-packed.  They contain action, drama and a bit of humor, at times.  The movies we watch and the “live” shows that air draw millions of viewers.



Now, we have the fictional police hero.  We have shows that are set, or have been set, in cities all over the country.  From Frank Reagan of the NYPD on Blue Bloods, to the elite S.W.A.T. team of L.A.P.D.  There were Crockett and Tubbs of Miami Vice and Steve McGarrett and Danno of Hawaii 5-0.

These television dramas gave people a peek into the world of being “The Police.”


All shows were not serious dramas with action-packed episodes.

  • We had Barney Miller who lent a humorous side to being a detective in New York City.
  • There was Reno 911 which portrayed a bumbling group of sheriff’s deputies in Nevada.
  • Last but not least we have the Super Troopers to thank for busting doper kids and cracking an international drug ring.

These shows all seem cool, exciting and entertaining.  I have watched episodes of all of them – and more.  They are entertaining … but that’s it.

If you ask the majority of police officers what they think about this on-screen version of a cop’s world, they will most likely tell you that, although they may watch them, the shows are not realistic.  Some lack authenticity or legitimacy in their scripts.

The crimes and people they investigate are all perfectly set so that the officers involved can solve the case in a preset amount of time. The time slot allotted is usually in less than 60 minutes.



The fact is this: a lot of policing is uneventful.  It is spent doing paperwork or driving on patrol.  Of course, the amount of real action depends on the area.  Some places are busier than others.

TV programs fail to show that being a police officer means long hours. It means working holidays and weekends, too.


  • We work 10, 12 or even 16 hour shifts at times, when we are dog-tired.
  • It’s standing in the frigid cold or sweltering heat, directing traffic at a traffic crash scene.
  • It is knocking on the front door of a home at 3:00AM. When someone finally answers that door, they must be told that a member of their family – a loved-one – has been killed in an accident. We never forget the sound of a broken-hearted mother as she wails in agony as she learns that she has lost a child or her husband.
  • It is seeing the absolute worst of society at times and, at others, the best.

We all knew this when we signed up.

So, when you watch these movies and shows, remember, it is purely entertainment. It was made to draw you into next week’s episode or to go see the sequel.

They are fictional characters in fictional situations with fake bad guys.

Real police work, with real police officers is all about saving just ONE life.


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