Five Things Every Movie Gets Wrong about Being a Cop

Films about cops and featuring cops are usually pretty exciting and get the audience into the whole thrill of the movie by inciting violence and catching the bad guy. What a lot of people don’t seem to realize is that in real life the cops are not the Bruce Willis types that go busting in doors and taking on a tower full of terrorists on their own with only a couple of guns. That’s Hollywood, and its magical fairy dust gets sprinkled very liberally on the roles of police officers whether they’re shown in the line of duty or in one extreme circumstance or another.

So let’s see what real detectives came up with that bother them about police films.

5. Specialists in cop movies don’t tend to work alone.

We’ve all seen the films where the detective or crime specialist that “just knows things” goes in and solves the case in ten minutes to an hour. They look at a few things, analyze the data and facts they have, and the presto, they’ve got it figured out. That’s not reality unfortunately. In a real investigation there are a lot of moving parts that go into a case and there are many individuals that are specialized in one particular area. The process of figuring out what happened and possibly who did involves an entire team of people. Asking one person to do all of it is a little insane.

4. Real cops don’t pull their guns unless there’s a reason.

In a lot of cop films you’ll see the officers running around with their guns drawn and their fingers near the trigger. This is a big no-no at the academy in the real world and will get cops in trouble if they practice this way. An officer’s gun isn’t supposed to be pulled until there’s a recognizable threat, and it’s supposed to be holstered immediately when the threat has been neutralized.

3. The “good cop/bad cop” routine isn’t that predictable.

In the movies it’s predictable. You can just see in the faces of the actors who’s about to go megaton and who is trying to get the suspect on their side. In real life detectives have to change tactics more often than not if one particular approach doesn’t work. So a good cop can switch to a bad cop and either can switch to being a sneaky cop as it’s needed. The trick is not to assume one set role but to keep the suspect on their toes so they’ll reveal more than they intended.

2. It doesn’t take multiple detectives to interview a suspect.

It should really only take two detectives at most to question a suspect. Any more than that and there are too many personalities in the room to deal with. When trying to ascertain facts and get the truth out of a suspect detectives don’t feel the need to complicate matters any more than usual. Plus, a lot of suspects will typically lawyer up if they feel too pressured, at which point the game is over.

1. The equipment is usually all wrong

This is one point that really bugs cops when they see it in film. From regular beat cops to SWAT movies the gear is almost always a little to a lot off when compared to what it would be in real life. Sometimes it’s the weaponry, other times it’s the protective gear, but the authenticity of it is damaged when the director wants to remove some of the gear or add extraneous equipment that cops wouldn’t normally use.

It’s easy to think that what we see on film is not entirely the way a cop would go about their day, but sometimes the awesomeness of the scene allows people to get carried away and forget the reality of an officer’s job.

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