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Character and cops ethics in policing essay

Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice. In particular, the police are featured as prominent characters in many fictional crime programs.

Some television cops, such as Joe Friday, Columbo, and Kojak transcend the genre and become enshrined within popular culture. Sometimes referred to as a police procedural, the police drama is a staple of both current and past television programming.

In fact, almost 300 police dramas have aired on American network, cable, and syndicated television, with several new shows premiering each year. The vast majority of these shows are short-lived and are largely forgotten. Sweeping changes within society have resulted in shifting portrayals of the police on television. Early portrayals focused on a law and order approach, in which the police were moral agents who represented a conservative, pro-establishment point of view.

The authentic police drama features storylines and characters that engage in somewhat realistic investigative practices and depict relatively common criminal events. The classic example of an authentic police drama is Dragnet, while more recent versions would include shows such as the very popular Law and Order franchise.

The 1970s represented the golden age of the police drama, with numerous shows that can be described as gimmicky, with police appearing as super-cops who could singlehandedly fight corruption and achieve justice. Moreover, demographic shifts in the field of policing led to more diversity in media depictions of police, with character and cops ethics in policing essay that featured female and African-American characters.

In the 1980s, the portrayal of police became even more complex with the appearance of Hill Street Blues, a genre altering show that introduced serialized storylines and characters that were depicted with distinctly human characteristics, with real emotions and flaws. Moreover, the standard law and order approach was challenged, as a more liberal explanation of crime emerged with social inequality as a cause of criminal behavior.

Contemporary police dramas, especially shows that appear on network television, tend to focus on a law and order approach.

The emergence of cable networks has allowed the police drama to push the limits of television by depicting the police in a more realistic fashion. Crime is a central feature in news, newsmagazines, documentaries, reality-based shows, and fictional drama.

Ken Dowler

The experiences of police, lawyers, judges, private investigators, medical examiners, correctional workers, criminals, and victims are probed in a variety of television shows. In particular, the police drama or procedural is a staple of television programming in the United States, and several shows have experienced critical acclaim, large viewing audiences, and longevity.

This number does not include the large number of shows that focus on other elements of crime and justice, such as detective shows, shows based on lawyers, judges, correctional workers, and criminals. Programs that succeed are often imitated, recycled as reboots i. As such, the purpose of this essay is to provide a chronological history of the evolution and trends that have made the television cop a mainstream figure within American pop culture.

Private Detectives, Mounties, and Cowboys It is character and cops ethics in policing essay to place the police drama in historical context. In popular culture, the private detective preceded the police in terms of popular appeal and became an established genre within literary fiction. In fact, their character traits are often used in both crime and police dramas, especially mysteries.

Many of these detectives were featured heavily in radio programming, and with the inauguration of network television, the private detective became a mainstay in television programming, which persists to this day Dunning, 1998.

Conversely, literary figures within the world of policing did not enjoy same level of popularity as private detectives. The 1868 novel, The Moonstone 1868 is considered the first police detective novel in the English language and featured a Scotland Yard detective Miller, 1988.

Character and cops ethics in policing essay

Yet, the most popular policing characters were historical figures fictional and non-fictional from the American West and Character and cops ethics in policing essay North. The commercialization and popular appeal of the Mountie is demonstrated by the production of more than 250 Hollywood movies Dawson, 1998.

The radio programs were extremely popular, and that popularity carried directly over into television. Despite the early appeal, the Mountie did not appear again on network television until Due South was broadcast from 1994 to 1996, on CBS.

In an ode to Sgt. The show was considered a mix between drama and comedy, as it dealt with absurd plots and stereotypes. Preston of the Yukon. Similarly, the American West became a focal point of early television programs after huge success on both film and radio. Legal outsiders were those not acting under the guise of the law, but heroic figures who had a strong moral sense of justice and fairness. In the Western genre, these solitary figures were generally more effective in providing justice than the established legal institutions, which were sometimes presented as corrupt, morally ambivalent, and decadent.

The genre would end in late 1960s, amidst complaints from groups claiming that the genre was too violent for television MacDonald, 1987 ; Mittell, 2004. Nonetheless, in the early 1970s, elements of the Western were updated into more modern settings, with such series as Hec Ramsey, Nichols, and McCloud. Not only did he carry a gun, he also had his handy trunk full of forensics such as fingerprinting equipment, magnifying glasses, and scales that aided in his solving of mysteries.

Set in Arizona during the 1910s, Nichols served as sheriff and used a motorcycle instead of the standard horse. He wore a sheepskin coat, bolo tie, and a cowboy hat. Peacemakers lasted only nine episodes and was an attempt to mirror the success of CSI, by combining the Old West with forensic science crime fighting techniques.

The critically acclaimed Deadwood told the story of Deadwood, South Dakota. Timothy Olyphant starred as Seth Bullock, a historical figure who was the original sheriff of the town. Both shows featured lead characters who exhibited Old West lawman characteristics, but the stories were set in the contemporary rural areas of Kentucky and Wyoming, respectively. The Birth of the Police Drama: Like many shows of the era, Dragnet first appeared as a successful radio program before transitioning into the world of television Dunning, 1998.

On January 11, 1949, the show was the first program transmitted from Chicago to New York and televised for a national audience.

Police Dramas on Television

Audiences were than invited to guess of the identity of the killer by phoning the network. The show was not well received nationally and was cancelled later in the year. Also, on October 12th, 1949, the Dumont network presented The Plainclothesman Dumont, 1949—1954a straightforward, big-city crime drama that featured an unseen lead character, simply named the Lieutenant.

The audience saw the episode through the viewpoint of the Lieutenant, who with his sidekick Sgt. Dick Tracy ABC, 1950—1951 was based on a highly intelligent police detective who was more popularly known from a comic strip before being adapted for a highly successful radio program. The Dumont network produced Rocky King Inside Detective Dumont, 1950—1954a low-budget series that featured a hard-working detective in the New York City Homicide division, who simply followed leads and tracked down and arrested suspects, which was a similar premise to Dragnet.

Racket Squad CBS, 1951—1953 was based on actual case records and dealt with confidence rackets rather than street crime and murder. Of course, the very nature of the genre changed on December 16, 1951, when NBC broadcast an episode of the original Dragnet series.

In an effort to offer moral education and social commentary, it was filmed as a pseudo-documentary, with the still-familiar four notes, dun dun dun dun, accompanying the story to punctuate important findings within the narrative. The creator, writer, and lead actor, Jack Webb was obsessed with crafting an accurate and realistic depiction of the working life of police officers.

Webb was a regular fixture at the Los Angeles Police Department and frequently went on ride-alongs in a quest for knowledge about the police and their work. With character and cops ethics in policing essay adapted from the files of the Los Angeles police, the early version of the show made claims for the realism of its depictions, announcing at the start of every episode: Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

The show had a slow and methodical pace and was focused on the ordinary, in both the type of crime and investigative techniques. For example, the crimes range from murder, to petty theft, to forgery. Yet, it would be a misnomer to suggest that the show was only focused on non-sensational crimes. Murder was a prominent feature of the show, with several episodes that featured homicide investigations. Yet, even with plots that featured murder, the investigations were non-sensational and unemotional, following leads, asking questions, interrogating suspects, and eventually solving the crimes.

The show had a sharply defined sense of right and wrong. Unlike modern crime drama, there was no blurring of the boundaries between good and evil. Sergeant Friday epitomized this ideal by adhering to a strict moral code and did not hesitate to deliver advice about the black and white nature of justice, criminality, and policing.

Scholars maintain that the show was a propaganda tool that helped legitimize the LAPD and their actions Lenz, 2003 ; Sabin et al. Similarly, State Trooper was allegedly based on Nevada state police files. This has been one of them. The show had a somewhat edgy, gritty realism and was a forerunner to the groundbreaking Hill Street Blues.

Although the show was not a ratings success, it was critically acclaimed and eventually became a staple of late-night television reruns Sabin et al.

As mentioned early, the Western genre dominated dramatic television in the 1960s.

There were only a handful of shows that featured police as central characters and only a few that achieved ratings success. Most of the police dramas of the 1960s were relatively short lived. The show was cancelled after only 30 episodes. The gimmick was that Burke was a millionaire driven to crime scenes in his Rolls Royce by Henry, his chauffeur. Prior to the third season, the show changed its title to Amos Burke, Secret Agent, as Burke left the police force to become a spy.

At this time in the history of pop culture, the secret agent was more palatable for viewing audiences, especially with the popularity of James Bond films and the success of the television shows The Man from U. This time, Burke was back as a police chief, solving crimes with his son and once again being driven around by his chauffer Henry. Nevertheless, the 1960s produced some police dramas that achieved some rating success and longevity, including The Untouchables ABC, 1959—1963 and The F.

The Untouchables was a historical police drama, focused on the heroic, yet highly fictional exploits of Eliot Ness and his character and cops ethics in policing essay treasury agents in their fight against gangsters and organized crime. At the time, it was considered the most violent show on television, with two or three violent shootouts every week. Despite the violence, the show reached number eight in the Nielsen ratings for the 1960—1961 season.

Unlike Dragnet, which used real cases for storylines, The Untouchables was not historically accurate. This is understandable, considering the producers used the self-serving autobiography that Ness had written. Edgar Hoover, the infamous chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who protested that the FBI should have been given credit for her capture. As a result, the show started issuing disclaimers that certain segments of the show were fictionalized Sabin et al.

Hoover was more impressed with The F. The show was based on real FBI files and presented the G-Men as emotionless, efficient, and very effective crime-fighters. The Bureau dominated every aspect of this show, from script approval to screening of cast members, to guarantee that that the FBI was always seen in flattering light.

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Hoover even allowed the FBI headquarters in Washington to be used in background scenes, and some episodes ended with a most wanted segment, hosted by Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

The Rebirth of the Police Drama: From Sergeant Friday to Kojak Dragnet was relaunched in 1966, with Jack Webb producing a television movie pilot that did not air until 1969. Despite the non-airing of the pilot movie, NBC picked up the series as a mid-season replacement and aired it on Thursday nights.