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Television The Myth and Reality of Police

I have written about this before. I am still struggling. I wrote before about Jack Webb shows when growing up in the 70s Dragnet, Adam 12 and The FBI Story. I then loved in the 80s Hill Street Blues, Law and Order (never a huge fan) then CSI amd now Rizolli and Isles and Closer/Major Crimes and Hawaii 50. Also.the novels by Ed McBain. I assume many read his novels.

Growing up and many years later I saw cops the way Jack Webb did. I do support amd intellectually support Black Lives Matter. I was outraged over the shootings the last few years and the militirization of cops. The last frightens me.


I thought of a simple line from Jesus Christ Superstar when Judas says “the myth from the man”. TV has in many ways portrayed cops favorably along with writers like Ed McBain.

Has television and books created a myth of the police. A myth in which they are the Knights In Blue who protect with their lives the innocent. Who are the voices of the innocent and dead. Folks who have personal flaws but a strong belief in right and wrong.


The reality is completely different. Although I want to believe that many are living the ideals.

Sometimes I wonder how much fictional television and novels have not just created a myth but created an atmosphere where folks believe cops lives are more important. For example if a cop gets shot on a show you watch one feels anger and sadness because its a character you become attached to. Yes almost always they live but you still feel those emotions.


I am wondering if there is not a transference where they see news stories of cops shot on CNN that one sees that cop like they do on a fictional show.

Very few people, especially white, only experience with cops is what they see on tv. I am wondering how much that clouds how they perceive reality. Do they see the myth as the reality?


I talked this over to my therapist. I was telling her how I grew up loving police shows and still do. Yet the reality is just so different and how to balance the two. She said “we are white and its one of the true racial divides, trying to understand the differences in the perception and experience with police is the key”.

Thoughts? Overthinking? I am known to overthink.

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