On TV series like Chicago PD and Blue Bloods, which are the most realistic in portraying the idealism and dedication, or, contrariwise, t…   no comments

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Answer by A Quora admin:

Neither program is especially realistic.

Chicago PD has one unit of five or six people involved in running gun battles and shooting multiple bad guys just about every week. That makes for exciting action sequences, but the entire Chicago Police Department (probably, all the police departments in Illinois) doesn't see that much action.

The sergeant in charge of the unit was in jail for making threats against a firefighter, before he cut a deal with Internal Affairs to spy on other cops. He takes in orphans who grow up to become cops and eventually come to work in his unit. He has a safe in his basement that contains hundreds of thousands of dollars procured from who-knows-where, along with other mysterious packages that are probably not the family china or really good chocolate.

The jail stint and extortion scheme alone would almost certainly mean the end of his career. If he did manage to make it back to the PD, he certainly wouldn't be running an elite team of cowboy gunfighters. He also wouldn't be allowed to have his former foster daughter working for him.

Blue Bloods portrays cops in a more favorable light, but not a true one. NYPD commissioners rarely rise up from the ranks. Commissioner  Frank Reagan often says he does not get involved with incidents involving his sons, but he is almost always involved with incidents involving his sons. I'm not certain that NYPD would allow the sons of a sitting commissioner to work at all, but that's speculation on my part. Certainly, the kids of the commissioner would be told to lie low, as any questionable incident involving them would be front page news.

Danny and Jamie Reagan (the sons) also seem to shoot a lot of people. A cop who is involved in one shooting is watched carefully. If a cop was to rack up two or more in a comparatively short time, he would be transferred to some isolated assignment in the third sub-basement of a building to get him out of the spotlight. He might never been seen again until he retired.

I also find it a little specious that a Harvard Law grad, even one from a legendary, multi-generational cop family, would decide to be a uniformed patrolman. He would have difficulty just making his student loan payments on a cop's salary, while he was passing up lawyer jobs paying 2-3X what a patrolman makes, and potentially millions as an eventual partner in a large law firm.

The Reagan daughter, Erin, is an assistant district attorney. The various DA's offices have hundreds of attorneys working for them. She would never be allowed to touch a case involving one of her immediate family, even though the TV character has this happening nearly every week.

Frank Reagan is the chief/commissioner every cop wishes he had. He spent time on the streets, has never forgotten his roots, meets personally with cops who are in difficult situations (sometimes to their benefit, sometimes not), and constantly stresses ethics and integrity, both for himself and his troops.

He's a little too good to be true, especially for a big city chief. The bigger the law enforcement agency, the more of a politician you have to be in order to run one. Guys like Bill Bratton, Ray Kelly, and Charles Moose are much better politicians than they are cops. I think Frank Reagan is too much of a boy scout. In an organization as large and complex as NYPD, he would be eaten alive.

Actual corruption, like cops taking bribes, stealing evidence, informing for mobsters, etc. is much more subtle than you see on Chicago PD. It has to be kept within a few people, because otherwise someone will get stupid or sloppy and ruin the scheme. In the few instances where I saw it happen, no one outside the inner circle had a clue about it.

Conversely, investigative work is not as straightforward as Blue Bloods or any other TV show makes it seem. The detectives on Blue Bloods work only one case at a time, and they're always resolved within a few days, at most. Actual detectives have many cases open at any moment, and have to divide their time. When they go to interview someone, they aren't at home, or they're out f town for two weeks. People move and don't leave a forwarding address. Your suspect does capers in other precincts, or even other cities and states, and you may not know about it. While there are truly dedicated and talented detectives (and patrol officers), most of their cases resolve over weeks and months, not days, and there are far more than a single two-detective team involved.

I watch and enjoy both programs, but TV is entertainment, not education. If you want to truly understand how things work, you need to go to the police academy and work the street for a while.

On TV series like Chicago PD and Blue Bloods, which are the most realistic in portraying the idealism and dedication, or, contrariwise, t…

Written by Tim Dees on January 3rd, 2015