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!

100 Replies to “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. nothing can be truth from Vox. they're fake news so you have to doubt them.

  3. It just goes to show how rediculous people are in getting arrested for the dumbest of all reasons. I once saw a guy get arrested for posessing a gun (which is Constitutional), and he said to the cop he didn't have a search warrant, and got arrested anyway. Seriously to make America constitutional again we have to abolish the justice system.

  4. I always wondered what it was like getting permission to use people's images for the show.
    Who would be okay with being identifiable as the guy caught with cocaine in his pants after jumping three fences in a police chase?

  5. The Big Bang Theory was cancelled! Yes! Now idiots that don't know what funny actually is will have to go back to watching reruns of Saved by the Bell and Dorf on Golf.

  6. If it's live, then you see it, raw, unedited, and as it is in the real world, and you say it molds a false reality, it begs the question, what are you smoking sir?

  7. I get that police organization or precincts or whatever invite these shows over and that could have some like "agenda" problem. But everyone will always act in their own self interest. At least this way you have live operations being carried out for everyone to scrutinize. At least in this situation the organizations pushing their image/agenda also results in increased accountability as well. I feel like this is a stretch at best…

  8. Damn COPS started in 89?
    I have watched quite a bit of the show and its so interesting and fun to watch

  9. Just gonna say this.
    Cops isn't stage in the way that its fully fake.
    It might be staged by the way the cops act and that's reasonable.
    Besidds that its real and its exciting to watch

  10. You see where crack was a black epidemic they locked everyone one up now opioids affects the status quo they use alternative ways other than imprisonment black people they don't play fare

  11. Bush sr. with the bag of crack is the absolute peak of hypocrisy with him being behind the CIA operation in Mena, Arkansas importing tens of tons of cocaine every single week, even killing teenagers who had the bad luck of witnessing a cocaine load being dropped in the woods of Arkansas…That man had no human soul!

  12. why has it stayed on TV for 3 decades? because it's fucking awesome. boom! like comment and subscribe this video is over. no but seriously cops has been on TV for so long because it's an awesome show.

  13. Live:PD is 10x better then cops. I've been watching Live:PD since the first episode and 3 years later I'm still watching Live:PD. With Cops I think I watched it for 6 months and lost interest very quickly.

  14. We have our own live cops feed here in Ohio. It's the Logan Ohio Police Department. They do a live FB feed most nights. Sometimes with a ride-a-long.

  15. And is it bad they use that to shape identity? They are the ones who protect you from being shot in the head in the morning. It's basically just ads and is it any different than infomercials? Plus its entertaining!

  16. When are they going to bust the people who bring the the drugs in the country, and it's not poor black people in ghettos. It's rich politician using poor people to make themselves look like hero's for votes

  17. SO the war on drugs is going on 30 years later and guess what, more drugs are on the streets. Drug dealers watching this learn how the Police operate and take measures to defeat them. It will never end.

  18. finny to see George bush whit crack on hands ,the same criminal responsible for bringing it to the streets

  19. If they are worried about their reputation then they need to change their policies and training. Not make a TV show.

  20. Well,I have aspirations to become a actor,writer,filmmaker,and stuntman,but other than that,I want to join COPS so I can finally hold a handheld camera (well,I always wanted a camcorder,but still) and of course,a sound equipment.

  21. Who wasnt glad to see them shooting video on they're home towns tho right ? Everybody was like they're shootn cops in town right now

  22. So if we decriminalize drugs what is the average cop going to do? Seems to me 80% of police interactions have to do with drugs.

  23. What I’m most curious about is are there rules for filming the criminals getting arrested/interviewed because in some cases they blur out the criminal but other they don’t so does the producer ask them for consent to be filmed, and if not is it legal for them to film the criminal without consent?

  24. COPS was and is a farce. LivePD displaced some actual good programming on A&E. Both shows have done much to encourage whites to have an unwarranted romanticism about the police

  25. Vox are the narcs of YouTube, trying to get those who rebut their arguments and tactics banned on this platform.

  26. If there’s any Hollywood people reading this , I’m going to give you my idea free . Do a show called ….”cops….that don’t know there being filmed”………. now THAT would be entertaining !!!!

  27. There is a war going on outside no One is safe from you can run but you can't hide forever believes cup step beyond look

  28. How come bush is holding that bag and why is it not legal for him but it not for everybody else just asking

  29. Bush:" ok we done? Now everyone leave the room and don't come in for any reason even if I invite you in. You done with that coke bro? Oh I just like to recycle 😉.

  30. My dad is on cops lol delete scenes …it was like 2006 in Washington somewhere in Tacoma lol they took him off the show for being 2 violent

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