The truth behind the TV show Cops


Right now, the most-watched TV show in the US is… “The Big Bang Theory” The most expensive? “Game of Thrones” But what about the longest-running primetime show, apart from news? It isn’t “The Real World”, or “Law and Order”. Nope, not even “The Simpsons”. It’s a show that’s hardly changed since it started in 1989. Yep. It’s “Cops”. The reality show where they follow police around with cameras. “He’s running, he’s running!” And, really, that’s kind of all there is to it. But it’s stayed on TV for over three decades. Why? The show has plenty of action, but a team of producers from the podcast
“Running From Cops” found that the driving force behind the show’s popularity, isn’t visible on camera. It’s what’s happening behind it. “Picket team leaders, please join the line!” In 1988 television writers across the US went on strike. “Producers cannot deny the strike is having
a negative impact.” “It shows no sign of ending.” That meant TV channels started looking for
shows that wouldn’t require union writers “Welcome to Fox!” Fox had recently started a TV channel and Stephen Chao was an executive in charge of finding new material. Fox network didn’t really have much of a personality at that stage. And so, I was like, ‘Ok here’s your chance.’ If you can make something good, we’ll promote it on the stations and, if it’s really good, it’ll get drafted by the network. At Fox, he took a meeting with John Langley, who was selling an idea for unscripted TV. He showed me this tape of a live drug bust and it was fantastic! “Come here, take her!” After seeing the material, Fox signed on to make “Cops” and this footage comes from the first episode. “This is where they smoke their crack.” That emotion was so powerful and then you saw the emotional ‘Poomph!’ that it gave to you. You’d go, ‘Ok, I’m not going anywhere else.’ “Go! Go! Go! Go!” “Get your hands up!” “Get down!” From the start, the show’s raw style
made this a cheap production. “Clear! Clear! Clear! Clear!” It didn’t require actors or writers and the entire show was shot on handheld cameras. “We have a 99 on a white male” “Cops” wasn’t fancy. And when it premiered in 1989, it didn’t
look like anything else on TV. “You’re in love with me?” “New Phil Collins!” “Jello pudding snacks!” “Police you m**********r! Get on the ground!” Cops was a gritty look at crime during the
American War on Drugs. A few months after Cops premiered, President Bush went on live TV holding a bag of crack cocaine. “It’s as innocent looking as candy, but it’s turning our cities into battle zones and it’s murdering our children.” “Cops” was a full dose of reality, with cameras showing the real thing up close and personal. This felt like you were with the cops and they weren’t hiding any secrets from you “Stop resisting and lay on your stomach.” But that feeling… …doesn’t match the reality behind the scenes. In fact, that was kind of part of the art of John, which is, he made you feel like you were inside, but in fact it was, on the other hand, approved by the police department. Since the first season of the show, which was shot in Florida, the police on Cops have used that control to build their public image. “We’re here just to look for some drugs and clean up the bad people off the street. You don’t mind that do you?” Nick Navarro, the sheriff of Broward County, was featured that first season. Sheriff Nick Novarro was ultimately anticipating that he would want to be re-elected and he thought that, ‘If I use “Cops”, what a good platform that would be to get me more votes”. “Cops” made Navarro the county’s “showbiz sheriff” and although he lost the next election, his popularity gave producers a model for convincing other agencies to go on the show. The next season, cops moved to Portland, Oregon, where they featured Sergeant John Bunnell. “How heavily involved are you in narcotic trafficking?” In the years COPS began filming in Portland, videotape of Rodney King being beaten by police sparked outrage in Los Angeles and rioting swept through the city the next year. Two years later, Cops hit the streets of L.A., where they had been trying to convince the L.A.P.D. to let them film for years and didn’t get access until a newly appointed police chief invited them. “I don’t know if you’ve seen this gun before.” “This is the gun.” At the time, a member of the Mayor’s police
commission defended his decision to let “Cops” film. Saying that, “The department, since the Rodney King incident in particular, has had a very negative reputation,” So it made “sense for the department to receive some positive coverage.” Over the next three decades, this pattern continued. “Cops” moved from city to city, helping shape
a positive image for law enforcement agencies throughout the country. In 2013, police in Omaha, Nebraska were fired for using excessive force. The next year, the police chief invited “Cops” to come film. While in town, a crew member was killed during a police shootout and the chief was asked why he brought “Cops” to Omaha in the first place. “We had some rough times.” “And we had an issue that occurred about a
year and a half ago that we’ve overcome and we’ve become a very professional strong organization. I wanted to “Cops” to come in so that they can
see the Omaha Police Department.” In 2014, killings by officers in Salinas, California led to protests. “To send a message to Salinas Police, after four officer-involved shootings this year.” The next year “Cops” was filming in Salinas. “You need to be smarter about your choices, ok?” After Cops wrapped filming in Salinas, the
police chief described the show as For decades, “Cops has allowed police
to control their appearance on TV, while they try to achieve their own goals in reality: whether that’s trying to gain votes, cleaning
up a reputation or recruiting new officers. But while police officers continued to use
this model, many of the viewers that watched “Cops” in the 1990s had stopped tuning in. After 25 years, Fox eventually cancelled “Cops” and it moved to a new channel, but that doesn’t mean viewers are losing interest in police-sanctioned reality TV. “This is Live PD!” “Live PD” is a TV show on A&E where camera crews embed with police units to broadcast live events as they’re happening. “Show me your hands!” When the show launched in 2016, “Watch cops, live!” the trailer responded directly to calls for
increased police accountability. “Being able to see exactly what the police are doing and how they are doing it is beneficial to everyone.” The format of “Live PD” makes it possible for police officers to come off as less polished than on “Cops”. “I’m gonna f*****g tase you! Get on your face! Get the f**k on your face!” Doing it live might be a way to increase transparency, but at its core “Live PD” is just another way for police to shape an identity on television. “…we have narcotics…” Like “Cops”, law enforcement agencies invite “Live PD” to come film with them and it’s that connection that connection that will continue to be the
driving force behind these shows. In 2018, the most-viewed show on DVR was “Live PD”. Hey, thanks for watching. In this video we worked with a podcast called
“Running From Cops” in order to make this happen and if you have any questions about what happens after the cameras stop rolling, the stories behind people who signed
releases to be on the show, or anything else related to “Cops”, then you have to check them out. They spent over a year researching the show, travelling the country to interview
people who have been on it, and also compiled data about how
the show portrays crime in the US. It’s called “Running From Cops” and it’s available on iTunes or wherever else you get your podcasts. Thanks!

37 thoughts on “The truth behind the TV show Cops

  1. If you want to learn more about the TV show Cops, make sure to check out the podcast "Running From Cops". Listen here: https://pineapple.fm/cops

  2. If I recall a Cops sound guy was shot & killed in a Wendy's 🍔🍟🥤 in Omaha NE. He went into the side & a Omaha cop shot him aiming for a armed robbery suspect.

  3. So there’s GHWB unaware he was admitting that HE is responsible for killing millions of Americans. If you disagree please prove me wrong and he was not responsible for bringing tons of dope into the country & starting the war on people. If you still believe in the “war on drugs” I can’t help your ignorance.

  4. You forgot to clarify how all mainstream media and politics and law enforcement agencies are Confederate and part of a Masonic brotherhood. It's right in our faces. Just take a moment to read the signs, symbols, patches etc.

  5. Yeah but it's always controlled how come they never show the corrupt cops on live PD that was that harass the people in the streets for no apparent reason what was that show that is the live auditors

  6. This wasn't entirely true I remember an episode of Cops where the Officer refused to tell the Suspect why he was being arrested.

  7. I don't like the idea of live PD. When cops need to make a life or death decision I don't want them to have to think "how will this look?"

  8. Fox: cops, living single, New York undercover, Martin, the Simpsons, married with children, Pokemon, power rangers, … I spent my whole childhood in front of that station 😂😂😂😂😂

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