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Jewish World Review
April 13, 2007
/ 25 Nissan 5767
Sometimes, on an evening when there is nothing else to watch and my wife and I want to just veg out and watch something easy and noncommittal on television, she will suggest that we put on "Cops," the reality show where a cameraman rides along with real honest-to-goodness police in a prowl car as they go about doing their duties. By the way, for all you readers under the age of 60, a "prowl car" was what they used to call "squad car." For readers under the age of 50, "squad car" was what they used to call "patrol car."
I think what my wife likes about "Cops" is the fact that we actually see real bad guys get caught by real police officers. I like that, too. In this day and age when so many crumbs seem to get away with everything, including murder, it's a real cathartic viewing experience to see bad guys apprehended and (hopefully) punished for the crimes they commit. It's like when you're driving in your car and you see a jerk in a $65,000 Mercedes whip a U-turn in the middle of a busy street and then get nailed by a cop. You say, "YEAH! That's the way it's supposed to be!"
We've been watching this show off and on for years now, and there are a couple of things that I just don't get. One thing is, why do so many of the police officers shave their heads like the gang members do? Why would a cop want to look like the lowlifes they are pursuing? Listen, I know what the bad guys look like; I want the good guys to look differently. I don't want our soldiers in the Middle East running around in head scarves, robes, and big black moustaches, and I don't want our cops here at home looking like gangbangers.
Another thing that has become evident after watching many episodes shot in cities all over the United States is, the cops all talk alike, no matter what part of the country they work in. A cop in Bakersfield, California sounds like a cop in Kansas City and like a cop in Denver, Colorado and like a cop in Miami, Florida. They all use the same phrases and speech patterns, and this is the really strange thing, they all have the same accents. It's as if they all grew up the same neighborhood. Now why would that be? Is there a national cop school that all rookies attend to learn how to sound the same?
For my taste, the police on those shows treat the crooks way too gently. There is much too much politeness in the way the bums are handled. For instance, an officer will approach an obvious strung-out doper, filthy dirty, tattooed from top to bottom, with no driver's license and a belligerent attitude and say something like, "Excuse me, sir, would you step out of the car please?" This is no good. I want the cop to say, "Out of the car, you ugly-looking piece of human garbage!" as he bodily pulls the punk out of the vehicle and onto the ground face first. That's what I want.
Oh, and don't refer to the slob who has just broken parole, held up a convenience store and engaged in a 45 minute high speed chase as "the gentleman." Gentleman? Are you kidding me? The proper title for that person would be something so utterly unprintable in this space that I wouldn't be able to even use the initials. But that's what the police should call him, not "gentleman."
Of course they can't call the bad guys names or treat them the way they deserve to be treated or else the ACLU and other groups would hit the local police departments with so many lawsuits that they wouldn't be able to do their job at all. So they handle the crooks and scoundrels with kid gloves and respect, no matter how much abuse is thrown at them. I know I couldn't do it - I'd want to put on those kid gloves and punch those guys in their ugly faces.
The bad guys know only too well the limitations that the cops are under and they use every opportunity to take advantage of that. They know that unlike in the movies when cops would say, "stop or I'll shoot," real police can't do that. So the bad guys will attempt to outrun the cops - either on foot or in a car. Maybe if the criminals thought they might get shot they wouldn't take off so fast, but they know damn well the cop can't fire his gun at the "suspect" so they figure it's worth a try.
As frustrating as it is to witness how hampered the police are in their ability to fight crime, it does the heart good to see the majority of the bums get arrested and taken it - at least on the show. People want the bad guys to lose and good guys to win - and that in a nutshell must be why "Cops" has been such a popular program all these years. In real life it doesn't always work that way, too many bad guys win. Fortunately for society, there are always some good guys who want to become cops to protect the rest of us. G-d bless them.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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© 2006, Greg Crosby