Policing the Media: Street Cops and Public Perceptions of Law Enforcement
Publication Year: 2000
Policing the Media is an investigation into one of the paradoxes of the mass media age. Issues, events, and people that we see most on our television screens are often those that we understand the least. David Perlmutter examined this issue as it relates to one of the most frequently portrayed groups of people on television: police officers. Policing the Media is a report on the ethnography of a police department, derived from the author’s experience riding on patrol with officers and joining the department as a reserve policeman. Drawing upon interviews, Perlmutter describes the lives and philosophies of street patrol officers. He finds that cops hold ambiguous attitudes toward their television characters, for much of TV copland is fantastic and unrealistic. Moreover, the officers ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Viewing and Picturing Cops
- Looking Back Through the Viewfinder
- Wanting Something to “Happen”
- “Here's a Good Shot”
- “They'll Think We're Boring”
- Chapter 2: All the Street's a Stage
- The Dramaturgical Metaphor
- Approaching Cops as Viewers
- The Fog of the Street
- Chapter 3: Prime-Time Crime and Street Perceptions
- Televisual Content
- Street Perceptions: Police Responses to the Screen
- Chapter 4: Ethnography and Police Work
- Observing the Street Cop
- Chapter 5: Front Stage and Back Stage
- The Front Stage
- The Back Stage
- Star Power and Control
- Failed Expectations and Value Judgments
- Chapter 6: The (Real) Mean World
- In the Same Boat
- Everyone is Innocent
- No Respect from the Audience
- The System is against Them: Statistics as Bullshit
- Tales of Decline
- Conclusions: Rebels against the Public?
- Chapter 7: Real Cops and Mediated Cops: Can They “Get Along”?
- Perceptions as Effects
- The Struggle Continues
“… society closes its doors, without pity, on two classes of men, those who attack it and those who guard it.”—Victor Hugo, Les Miserables
Copyright © 2000 by Sage Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Perlmutter, David D., 1962-
Policing the media: Street cops and public perceptions of law enforcement / by David D. Perlmutter.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-7619-1104-9 (cloth: alk. paper) - ISBN 0-7619-1105-7 (pbk: alk. paper)
1. Police-United States-Public opinion. 2. Police-United States-Attitudes. 3. Police and mass media-United States. 4. Police in mass media. 5. Cop shows-Social aspects-United States. 6. Saint Louis Park (Minn.). Police Dept. I. Title.
HV8138 .P45 2000
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Acquiring Editor: C. Terry Hendrix
Editorial Assistant: Anna Howland
Production Editor: Diana E. Axelsen
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Typesetter: Tina Hill
Cover Designer: Michelle Lee
Ethnographers, scholars, and lay folk all see the world through a lens inflected by experience. Understanding the role and the relationship of the ethnographer to her or his subject provides data that are crucial for any ethnographic study. In its analysis of the way real people—cops—make sense of their visual symbolic environment in everyday life, Policing the Media provides an ethnography of police work that will be valuable for students, practitioners, and scholars in both criminology and communications.
I first became acquainted with David through letters of recommendation forwarded with his application to the doctoral program at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota, where I had developed a curriculum in visual communication. Policing the Media got its start in my documentary photography class there. I routinely assigned each student the task of launching and (hopefully) completing a photographic documentary during a 10-week term. Considering my emphasis on thorough research and significant observation, the short time frame made for a difficult undertaking. I often met informally with students for an additional 10-week session so they could complete their projects. For his project, David chose to photograph the St. Louis Park Police. Rather than continuing for an extra 10 weeks, David pursued his subject for several years. He understood the ethnographic foundation upon which my documentary course was built, and he dedicated himself to honing his skills as an ethnographer in the research methods seminar I taught. He made it clear from the beginning that the limitations imposed by a 10-week term meant little to him, given his larger pre-defined goals.
David has produced a book that employs visual research methods to address important issues in visual communication. Instead of uncritically using pictures as interview prompts and exhibiting them as uncontested evidence, Policing the Media problematizes the role of the images used. But this is only [Page viii]one of David's accomplishments. In addition to his reflexive and thoughtful use of photographs, he takes the community as context and offers a concrete illustration of the interface between mass-mediated images and everyday life. He posits the relationship between popular representations of cops, public expectations of police behavior and policing activities, and officers' own presentation of self, on duty and off. Policing the Media presents ethnographic data that lead convincingly to the conclusion that representations do matter, and that media makers play an important role in shaping public consciousness through their manipulation of the symbolic environment.
Throughout my teaching career, I have tried to inculcate in my students an appreciation for the complexity of the photographer's endeavor and the responsibilities photographers have in representing the lives of others. David's work reflects these concerns. In addition, this volume embodies a blend of theory and practice and an interdisciplinary vision that is essential in our attempts to understanding others. I am honored to have been invited to introduce this volume, and I believe that the rich research tradition David inherits and advances will surely blossom as its descendants continue to enlarge its reach.—University of Minnesota
This book is concerned with (a) the interplay of mass media representations of law enforcement and crime and the work and beliefs of real-life police officers and (b) to what extent, how, and why real cops are in themselves mediators, that is, performers to the public and to themselves. The two questions are related because, as I will argue here, street cops perceive that the mass-mediated cop is in a sense a rival—one that has far greater influence on how we the citizenry define and appreciate police work. The focus of the book, then, is on the “social world” of media's impact, what Griswold (1994) defines as “the context in which culture is created and experienced” (p. xiv). The venue for the investigation was an ethnography I conducted from the winter of 1992 to the summer of 1995 of the St. Louis Park (SLP), Minnesota, police department. SLP is a border suburb of Minneapolis. In a relatively low-crime state—the legendary “Minnesota nice,” as I can testify, does exist—the city's crime rate was about average. Its social geography is mixed: It has an industrial section, highways, family neighborhoods, and many small businesses. Its population during the day hits about 100,000 and at night falls to about half that number. In demographic makeup, SLP is predominantly white (90%) but with growing African American and immigrant populations; it also has the largest concentration of Jewish residents of any city in the state. In addition, there are several large senior living centers and nursing homes. Class distinctions are noticeable but in typical Midwest fashion not blatant, with areas ranging from wealthy neighborhoods with large, expensive family homes to moderate-income dwellings to poor sections (by suburban Minnesota standards) with low-income apartment buildings.
The SLP Police Department (SLP-PD) itself was small, comprising no more than 50 regular officers; a dozen sergeants, detectives, and lieutenants; one captain and one chief; and about 20 other staff, including dispatchers. All were and are based at a single station located only about 4 blocks from the apartment [Page x]building in which I lived during that period. Only 4 to 6 regular officers patrolled the entire city at any one time (the official and thus unused term is routine preventive patrol). When my ethnography began, 2 officers were female; 2 more women were hired during my study. About 10 officers served for me as fully involved informants, those with whom I rode along most often. The PD administration knew of my study, approved it, and never put any restrictions on it save a tacit agreement that I would try (a) not to get killed and (b) not to obstruct officers in their duties.
Unusual for academic participant observation of cops (a term I use here as they do, without negative connotation), this study was partly a visual ethnography. With single-lens reflex camera in hand, I rode with cops, observed, listened to, talked with, and sometimes took black-and-white (or, more rarely, color) pictures of them. Often I watched silently, mostly when cops were interacting with the public. Other times, in long, long hours alone with a single officer in the squad car, I conversed. About halfway through the study, I joined their ranks—in a very restricted sense—by becoming a reserve police officer. I then rode along in uniform (powder-blue shirt rather than the cops' dark blue) but without a gun. Ironically, this change in status actually reduced opportunities for picture taking, as I became marginally more involved in assisting with police duties.
Because I first began the ethnography not as a reserve police officer but as a citizen and I carried a camera and took notes, it was instantly evident to the natives—the officers—that I was in some way studying them. Gary Allan Fine (1980) has suggested that ethnographers can adopt various levels of openness about their role: Deep Cover, Shallow Cover, and Explicit Cover. Deep cover is the undercover ethnography in which the researcher affects to be a natural participant in the environment and community. In explicit cover, the researcher reveals her or his role, intentions, and exactly how she or he plans to use the data. In shallow cover, a “middle ground,” the researcher reveals general goals—for example, “writing about what you do”—but does not outline details of interests or intentions.
This last category describes my status with the police. I told them truthfully (both voluntarily and when asked), “Well, I'm interested in your work, what cops do on the street, talking about it and showing it.” I used the material and photos gathered in the study for teaching and on occasion invited officers, department administrators, and other law enforcement personnel to address my classes. They were also aware that the work would be published someday in article or book form, although I assured them for the academic market, not the front page of the (despised) newspapers. I did not explicitly relate that I was particularly interested in their view of the interaction of mediated reality and their world. This was so often a manifest or latent topic of conversation with the officers that it seemed heavy-handed to emphasize its importance to me.
[Page xi]As a mass communication researcher, however, I was already interested in learning about a paradox of the street cop's role in a mass-mediated society. On one hand, our para-experience with police and the legal system is vast. Cops are familiar figures from literature, film, and especially televised fiction, news, and so-called “reality” shows. Crime (and crime fighting) is probably the single most common genre in both dramatic and nonfictional television and film (Ericson, Baranek, & Chan, 1987, 1989, 1991; Katz, 1987; Reiner, 1992, chap. 2; Schlesinger & Tumber, 1994; Sparks, 1992). Vicariously, all of us have viewed via the TV set or the movie screen cops chasing crooks through city streets, chain-drinking coffee during a stakeout, deciphering clues at a crime scene, or grilling a “perp” at the station. The scenes, dialogue, and poses of police work are clichéd. Moreover, as several cultural researchers have noted, much television programming in general and cop shows in particular use styles of cinematography and narrative that obscure the line between “reality based” and “fictional” (Cavender & Bond-Maupin, 1993; Linton, 1992). NYPD Blue, for example, uses documentary codes of realism that mimic the codes of news.
On the other hand, the world of the cop—the real cop—is secretive, a sort of guild, not open to easy dissection by the casual observer, especially through the limited personal experience most people have with police work. Our lived experience is generally minimal: For most of us, a speeding ticket or reporting a stolen stereo is the only authentic cop encounter. This was certainly my impression: I was a moderate viewer of news and fictional programming about law enforcement before I began my ethnography. Yet, a week into the study, a cop said to me, “This isn't like the crap they show on TV, is it?” Indeed, real-life law enforcement was not like what I saw on TV, and, in fact, it seemed not to lend itself to the bowdlerization that TV demands. Over 2 years, many illusions were shattered. For this reason, my own impressions as a member of the televisual audience of mass-mediated cops now encountering the real thing were and are part of the data for this study.
Questions arise from this situation. How do these two worlds coexist and collide? How do the mediated cops affect the beliefs and behaviors of actual, living police officers? What do real cops think about their two-dimensional screen cousins? What do real cops think are the influences of mass media on their “customers” (the public and the criminals)? These are essentially questions about how people negotiate the relevance and meaning of mass media imagery, symbols, primes, and narratives in their daily lives (Fine, 1977; Gamson, Crocteau, Hoynes, & Sasson, 1992).
Studying issues of mass media and society through an ethnography may seem inappropriate because field research necessarily examines limited communities. Yet, focusing on small audience groups, from Dr. Who fans to romance novel readers, has become an uncontroversial facet of media studies, whether by students of mass communication or others. Ethnography in general [Page xii]or participant observation in particular is one way to “get closer” to such audiences. Here, crucially, the audience studied (street cops) was also, indirectly, the subject of the mass media portrayals to which it responded. The added dimension of visual ethnography not only allowed the use of pictures as illustrations and tools of analysis but also prompted commentary and reaction by these subjects (see Schwartz, 1992). Finally, creating pictures of subjects that are already common in media portrayal, whether in prime-time dramas or cinema, can in itself be a reflective enterprise. The researcher begins to understand, not just by studying media texts but by creating them, the importance, power, and complexity of the codes, conventions, and clichés of the style, content, and connotations of those portrayals. As discussed later, sometimes when taking pictures I also felt weighed down by the dramatic and aesthetic standards of Hawaii Five-O, Adam 12, Homicide: Life on the Street, and World's Toughest Cops.
This book, then, is a limited report; its claims may or may not validly extend to other types of police in other regions, with larger or smaller forces, or serving different kinds of communities. Nevertheless, many of the findings match, support, or complement those uncovered through previous ethnographies and by other methods such as content analysis or surveys. For this reason, I also include a summary of previous research about the televisual world of crime and law enforcement, what cops think about it, and its possible effects on the public and cop work.
Yet simply reviewing the content of TV cop shows and then producing a checklist of divergences with the observed world of real cops is not in itself a satisfactory approach to the issues. Real cops do not refrain from attempting to mediate reality themselves. When they go on a call, they take into account public expectations. A textbook on policing sums up the situation as follows:
Citizens have certain expectations about the police. These expectations are formed from a wide range of influences—for example, word of mouth, movies, promises of politicians, or “intuition.” If the police meet a citizen's expectations, the person is more likely to have a favorable image of the police. Problems arise when these expectations are based upon unrealistic criteria. (Radelet & Carter, 1994, p. 205)
I add that cops believe that television is a major source of cop stereotypes, including many “unrealistic criteria” by which the public judges them and their work performance. Thus, although real cops distinguish between TV cops and themselves, they do not believe they live outside of a mass-mediated world. In addition, when in public they perform, not completely unlike the scripted and directed TV actor, in a way and style calculated to maximize audience impact.
The role of mass media here is worthy of study. What influences of mediated reality do we find in the daily routine and extraordinary events of cop work? More so than most “normal” people, police officers face situations that present [Page xiii]intensely (and dangerously) ambiguous signs and causes. To maintain some level of cognitive cohesion, they must construct a kind of “interpretative framework to order fragmented experience” (Stewert & Sullivan, 1982). The suggestion that is developed here is that one interpretative framework cops employ is media-centric: Cops feel that TV and movies are the standard to which other people hold them. Relatedly, mass communication researchers have spoken of a third-person effect: People believe that others are more prone to be negatively influenced by mass media texts than themselves (Cohen & Davis, 1991; Cohen, Mutz, Price, & Gunther, 1988; Davison, 1983; Gunther, 1991). The cops studied in the ethnography believed (or acted as if they believed) that the public—including criminals, victims, and the press—was affected by mass-mediated representations of cop work. They know also that those expectations often cannot be met by their own actions and words. In this they do not necessarily perceive personal failing but rather a diminishing of autonomy and power. When combined with stories of “the way it used to be,” when cops had greater freedom to prevent crime and enforce justice, the collision between mediated reality and street reality does cause noticeable effects on attitudes and behavior.
The book itself tries to encompass both the record of research on the televisual portrayal of police (i.e., the content of mass media) and the results and implications of the ethnographic study (i.e., the content of the “street”). The former comprises a sine qua non for evaluating the latter. Although ethnography, as will be elaborated later, adds to other research methods, it does not eclipse or obviate the need for them.
Accordingly, Chapter 1 deals with my experience of observing police officers and taking pictures of them. Such auto-observation is a useful entry to negotiating one's own understanding of the experience of ethnography. I describe how the process of making still photographs revealed something of the acculturation process of mass media; in turn, the cops' reactions to the picture taking and its products also served as examples of their general attitude toward mass media representations of their profession. Cops believe that people expect to see TV portrayals of police played out in real life, so they assumed that what I wanted was to find incidents in their work that displayed these norms and forms.
Performance for the camera, in real life, is not an ad hoc enterprise: It is part of the police officer's job. Chapter 2 outlines the conception of the dramaturgical metaphor and its application to street cops. It emphasizes that performance is a natural part of human action both through mediated forms of communication and in naturalistic settings.
Chapter 3 reviews studies of the content of television portrayals of crime and law enforcement. It also lists and discusses the basic contrasts between the mediated image of cops, what cops believe is the true description of the work life, and how the difference between the two may affect cop and public behavior when they interact.
[Page xiv]Chapter 4 sums up major previous ethnographic research on cop work. In general, most studies argue for the cop's role to be full of inherent tensions and contradictions. These especially center on their dual role of “keeper of the peace and deliverer of justice” versus their officially sanctioned role as law enforcer.
In Chapter 5, I focus on the “front stage”—how cops deal with the public and how much of this constitutes a pre-scripted act—and the “back stage,” where a different set of thoughts, actions, and behaviors are expressed, including “hidden transcripts” of complaint or criticism of the public, superiors, and other cops.
Chapter 6 questions the conception of “cop as outsider.” To what extent do cops feel alienated from the very system they are sworn to enforce? How do they view mass media's role in the quality and quantity of that alienation? What is found is an ironic mimicry of television in which cops feel that they live in a Gerbnerian “mean world” consisting of a mendacious public and dangerous criminals.
Chapter 7 attempts to resolve some of the issues raised by the ethnography but also suggests some that, like many crimes, are not solvable. The main conclusion is that in searching for media influence on daily life, indirect influence based on assumptions of strong effects is an important factor. Real-life cops' beliefs about the power of media may drive what they do on the street; any attempts to build better police-community relations must recognize this fact.
A basic premise is that people's hopes and fears are affected by what they think they know, based on the evidence that they trust, arising from both the TV world and from what they have personally experienced. This is a human universal. In describing the anxiety and paranoia of the peasantry in the first year of the French Revolution in 1789, historian George Lefebvre (1973) commented,
What matters in seeking an explanation of the Great Fear is not so much the actual truth as what the people thought the aristocracy could and would do; and it was not so much what happened as what the townspeople and peasants believed to have happened that stirred them into feverish activity. (p. xiii)
Likewise, what people believe to be true, no matter how fantastic or actual the basis of that belief, affects what they do and thus becomes a social fact, a segment of extramedia reality. In the fata morgana that often tempts researchers trying to prove definite causal relationships between media content and behavior, such perceptual maps are in themselves proof of the power of mass media in our lives. This is true for the police and the public and profoundly influences the system of law and justice in our country today.
In short, because so much of what is presented here deals with perception as well as observation, several concepts of projection and reality will be used. The term street reality refers to what happens in the cop's material-physical world. It is, of course, reality as assessed by the researcher and thus should be viewed as much a subjective approximation as any other reality. Nevertheless, it is, in a sense, a reference reality of what people (mostly the cops, the subject [Page xv]of the ethnography) think is the true nature of the population and events in their world. Media(ted) reality is the representation of the world of law enforcement found in mass media in general but on television in particular because this is the locus of most research on content and effects of cop and crime texts. These mental and corporeal worlds may converge or diverge, but all are important, and all may affect the beliefs and behaviors of cops (and others) on the street. In ethnography and in life, the mental map guides the actual journey.Author's Note
Gary Allan Fine (1993) has spoken of the “illusion of omniscience” of ethnographers who re-create “a scene with attendant bits of talk,” thus implying to the reader that all that happened was heard, understood, and now is being faithfully reported. Furthermore, by employing the argot of the natives, we hint that we have mastered the Sprachgefühl of the insider. This is hardly a novel phenomenon: Ancient historians, rhetoricians, and biographers quite unashamedly invented entire speeches that they attributed to generals and emperors. Even the most honest among them, Thucydides (1928), admitted,
As to the speeches that were made by different men, either when they were about to begin the [Peleponnesian] war or when they were already engaged therein, it has been difficult to recall with strict accuracy the words actually spoken, both for me as regards that which I myself heard, and for those who from various other sources have brought me reports. Therefore the speeches are given in the language in which, as it seemed to me, the several speakers would express, on the subjects under consideration, the sentiments most befitting the occasion, though at the same time I have adhered as closely as possible to the general sense of what was actually said. (p. xxii)
In the realm of fiction, W. Somerset Maugham similarly commented that he could not abide stories told in the first person that included transcripts of long conversations. How, he asked, could the reader suspend disbelief to credit the narrator with exact recollection of all that was said?
In this book, the quotes from police officers and others were reproduced from my own transcriptions. Even so, the statements are not verbatim because in taking notes I would often drop repetitious words, stutters, or nonword sounds. In other cases, I tried to jot down a paraphrase after the fact (signified here by the “PP:” notation and enclosed in quotes) of what an officer or a member of the public said. In such paraphrases, I attempted to capture the meaning, language, tone, and key words of the incident and the actor. The reader should keep in mind, however, that missing from any quote, whether faithful in word content and order, is a true feeling of context—what it was like to actually “be there.” Moreover, another observer, with other research goals and expectations, might report a different scene that would be no more or less accurate.
All ethnographers should be grateful to the subjects of their work, but I owe a special debt to the officers of the St. Louis Park Police Department. They were not only guides and informants but also exemplars of how people can cope with stress, chaos, provocation, and danger and still emerge with humor and humanity intact. These are men and women who, for relatively little recompense and even less gratitude, risk their lives to serve and safeguard a citizenry with which they have no personal connection. No facts presented or conclusions drawn from this study should obscure that fact.
I thank Anne Jett, without whose help this book would never have been finished.
My wife, Christie, gave me invaluable assistance in preparing and critiquing the manuscript.
Dona Schwartz reviewed this manuscript, and her suggestions considerably improved and focused it.
Gina Dubrowski printed about half the photographs displayed here.
Gratitude is also extended to Randy Johnson, Bill Eilers, Joan Conners, Hannah Gourgey, and Ramona Lyons, who at one time or another responded either to a draft of this work or to some of the ideas contained therein.
Finally, I wish to note my appreciation to the patient and supportive editors and staff at Sage: Terry Hendrix, Kassie Gavrilis, Diana Axelsen, Anna Howland, and Gillian Dickens.
The completion of this manuscript was partly funded by a Lee Griffin Research Professorship.
Table A.1 List of Network Prime-Time Crime and Law Enforcement Programs by Year, 1947–1994 1947 None 1948 None 1949 The Black Robe 30 minutes Famous Jury Trials 30 minutes Look Photocrime 30 minutes Man Against Crime 30 minutes Martin Kane, Private Eye 30 minutes 1950 Adventures of Ellery Queen 30 minutes Dick Tracy 30 minutes Famous Jury Trials 30 minutes Inside Detective 30 minutes Man Against Crime 30 minutes Martin Kane, Private Eye 30 minutes The Plainclothesman 30 minutes They Stand Accused 60 minutes Treasury Men in Action 30 minutes 1951 Adventures of Ellery Queen 30 minutes Amazing Mr. Malone/Mr. District Attorney 30 minutes Charlie Wild, Private Detective 30 minutes Crime Syndicated 30 minutes Crime With Father 30 minutes Man Against Crime 30 minutes Martin Kane, Private Eye 30 minutes The Plainclothesman 30 minutes Racket Squad 30 minutes Rocky King, Detective 30 minutes They Stand Accused 60 minutes [Page 134] Treasury Men in Action 30 minutes 1952 Adventures of Ellery Queen 30 minutes Crime Syndicated 30 minutes Dragnet/Gangbusters 30 minutes Inspector Mark Saber 30 minutes Man Against Crime 30 minutes Martin Kane, Private Eye 30 minutes The Plainclothesman 30 minutes Racket Squad 30 minutes Rocky King, Detective 30 minutes Steve Randall 30 minutes They Stand Accused 60 minutes Treasury Men in Action 30 minutes 1953 Dragnet 30 minutes Inspector Mark Saber 30 minutes Man Against Crime 30 minutes Martin Kane, Private Eye 30 minutes The Plainclothesman 30 minutes Rocky King, Detective 30 minutes Treasury Men in Action 30 minutes 1954 Dragnet 30 minutes Justice 30 minutes The Lineup 30 minutes Public Defender 30 minutes Rocky King, Detective 30 minutes The Stranger 30 minutes They Stand Accused 60 minutes Treasury Men in Action 30 minutes 1955 Dragnet 30 minutes Justice 30 minutes The Lineup 30 minutes Wanted 30 minutes 1956 Dragnet 30 minutes The Lineup 30 minutes 1957 Court of Last Resort 30 minutes Dragnet 30 minutes The Lineup 30 minutes M Squad 30 minutes Meet McGraw 30 minutes Perry Mason 60 minutes Saber of London 30 minutes Thin Man 30 minutes 1958 Adventures of Ellery Queen 60 minutes Confession 30 minutes Dragnet 30 minutes The Lineup 30 minutes M Squad 30 minutes [Page 135] Naked City 30 minutes Perry Mason 60 minutes Peter Gunn 30 minutes Saber of London 30 minutes 77 Sunset Strip 60 minutes Thin Man 30 minutes Traffic Court 30 minutes 1959 Bourbon Street Beat 60 minutes Court of Last Resort 30 minutes Hawaiian Eye 60 minutes Hennessey 30 minutes Lawless Years 30 minutes The Lineup 60 minutes M Squad 30 minutes Markham 30 minutes Perry Mason 60 minutes Peter Gunn 30 minutes Philip Marlowe 30 minutes Richard Diamond, Private Detective 30 minutes Robert Taylor: The Detectives 30 minutes 77 Sunset Strip 60 minutes Staccato 30 minutes Tightrope 30 minutes The Untouchables 60 minutes 1960 Andy Griffith Show 30 minutes Bourbon Street Beat 60 minutes Dan Raven 60 minutes Harrigan and Son 30 minutes Hawaiian Eye 60 minutes Hennessey 30 minutes The Law and Mr. Jones 30 minutes Michael Shayne 60 minutes Naked City 60 minutes Perry Mason 60 minutes Peter Gunn 30 minutes Robert Taylor: The Detectives 30 minutes 77 Sunset Strip 60 minutes Surfside Six 60 minutes The Untouchables 60 minutes The Witness 60 minutes 1961 Andy Griffith Show 30 minutes Cain's Hundred 60 minutes Car 54, Where Are You? 30 minutes Checkmate 60 minutes The Defenders 60 minutes 87th Precinct 60 minutes Hawaiian Eye 60 minutes Hennessey 30 minutes The Investigators 60 minutes Naked City 60 minutes The New Breed 60 minutes [Page 136] Perry Mason 60 minutes Robert Taylor's Detectives 60 minutes 77 Sunset Strip 60 minutes Surfside Six 60 minutes The Untouchables 60 minutes 1962 Andy Griffith Show 30 minutes Car 54, Where Are You? 30 minutes The Defenders 60 minutes Hawaiian Eye 60 minutes Naked City 60 minutes Perry Mason 60 minutes 77 Sunset Strip 60 minutes The Untouchables 60 minutes 1963 Andy Griffith Show 30 minutes Arrest and Trial 90 minutes Burke's Law 60 minutes The Defenders 60 minutes The Fugitive 60 minutes Perry Mason 60 minutes 77 Sunset Strip 60 minutes 1964 Andy Griffith Show 30 minutes Burke's Law 60 minutes The Defenders 60 minutes The Fugitive 60 minutes Perry Mason 60 minutes 1965 Amos Burke, Secret Agent 60 minutes Andy Griffith Show 30 minutes The F.B.I. 60 minutes The Fugitive 60 minutes Perry Mason 60 minutes Trials of O'Brien 60 minutes 1966 Andy Griffith Show 30 minutes The F.B.I. 60 minutes Felony Squad 30 minutes The Fugitive 60 minutes Hawk 60 minutes 1967 Andy Griffith Show 30 minutes Dragnet 30 minutes The F.B.I. 60 minutes Felony Squad 30 minutes Ironside 60 minutes Judd, for the Defense 60 minutes Mannix 60 minutes N.Y.P.D. 30 minutes 1968 Adam 12 30 minutes Dragnet 30 minutes The F.B.I. 60 minutes Felony Squad 30 minutes [Page 137] Hawaii Five-O 60 minutes Ironside 60 minutes It Takes a Thief 60 minutes Judd, for the Defense 60 minutes Mannix 60 minutes Mayberry R.F.D. 30 minutes Mod Squad 60 minutes N.Y.P.D. 30 minutes The Outsider 60 minutes 1969 Adam 12 30 minutes Bold Ones: The Lawyers/The Protectors 60 minutes Dragnet 30 minutes The F.B.I. 60 minutes Hawaii Five-O 60 minutes Ironside 60 minutes It Takes a Thief 60 minutes Mannix 60 minutes Mayberry R.F.D. 30 minutes Mod Squad 60 minutes 1970 Adam 12 30 minutes Bold Ones: The Lawyers/The Senator 60 minutes Dan August 60 minutes The F.B.I. 60 minutes Hawaii Five-O 60 minutes Ironside 60 minutes Mannix 60 minutes Mayberry R.F.D. 30 minutes Mod Squad 60 minutes The Most Deadly Game 60 minutes Silent Force 30 minutes Storefront Lawyers 60 minutes Young Lawyers 60 minutes 1971 Adam 12 30 minutes Bold Ones: The Lawyers 60 minutes Cade's County 60 minutes Cannon 60 minutes The D.A. 30 minutes The F.B.I. 60 minutes Hawaii Five-O 60 minutes Ironside 60 minutes Longstreet 60 minutes Mannix 60 minutes Mod Squad 60 minutes NBC Mystery Movie: 90 minutes Columbo/McCloud/McMillan and Wife O'Hara, U.S. Treasury 60 minutes Owen Marshall 60 minutes The Partners 30 minutes The Persuaders 60 minutes 1972 Adam 12 30 minutes Banyon 60 minutes [Page 138] Cannon 60 minutes The F.B.I. 60 minutes Hawaii Five-O 60 minutes Ironside 60 minutes Mannix 60 minutes Mod Squad 60 minutes NBC Sunday Mystery Movie: 90 minutes Columbo/McCloud/McMillan and Wife/Hec Ramsey 90 minutes NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie: Madigan/Cool Million/Banacek 60 minutes Owen Marshall The Rookies 60 minutes Streets of San Francisco 60 minutes 1973 Adam 12 30 minutes Barnaby Jones 60 minutes Cannon 60 minutes Chase 60 minutes The F.B.I. 60 minutes Griff 60 minutes Hawaii Five-O 60 minutes Ironside 60 minutes Kojak 60 minutes Mannix 60 minutes NBC Sunday Mystery Movie: 120 minutes Columbo/McCloud/McMillan and Wife/Hec Ramsey 90 minutes NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie: Madigan/Tenafly/Faraday & Company/The Snoop Sisters 60 minutes New Adventures of Perry Mason Owen Marshall 60 minutes Police Story 60 minutes The Rookies 60 minutes Streets of San Francisco 60 minutes Toma 60 minutes Tuesday Night CBS Movie: Hawkins/Shaft 90 minutes 1974 Adam 12 30 minutes Barnaby Jones 60 minutes Cannon 60 minutes Get Christie Love 60 minutes Harry-0 60 minutes Hawaii Five-O 60 minutes Ironside 60 minutes Kodiak 30 minutes Kojak 60 minutes Manhunter 60 minutes Mannix 60 minutes Nakia 60 minutes NBC Sunday Mystery Movie: 120 minutes Columbo/McCloud/McMillan and Wife/Amy Prentiss 60 minutes Petrocelli Police Story 60 minutes Police Woman 60 minutes [Page 139] Rockford Files 60 minutes The Rookies 60 minutes Streets of San Francisco 60 minutes 1975 Baretta 60 minutes Barnaby Jones 60 minutes Barney Miller 30 minutes Bronk 60 minutes Cannon 60 minutes Ellery Queen 60 minutes Harry-0 60 minutes Hawaii Five-O 60 minutes Joe Forrester 60 minutes Kate McShane 60 minutes Kojak 60 minutes Matt Helm 60 minutes NBC Sunday Mystery Movie: Columbo/McCloud/McMillan and Wife/McCoy 120 minutes Petrocelli 60 minutes Police Story 60 minutes Police Woman 60 minutes Rockford Files 60 minutes The Rookies 60 minutes S.W.A.T. 60 minutes Starsky & Hutch 60 minutes Streets of San Francisco 60 minutes Switch 60 minutes 1976 Baretta 60 minutes Barnaby Jones 60 minutes Barney Miller 30 minutes Blue Knight 60 minutes Charlie's Angels 60 minutes Delvecchio 60 minutes Hawaii Five-O 60 minutes Kojak 60 minutes Most Wanted 60 minutes NBC Sunday Mystery Movie: 90 minutes Columbo/McCloud/McMillan/Quincy, M.E. Police Story 60 minutes Police Woman 60 minutes The Practice 30 minutes Rockford Files 60 minutes Serpico 60 minutes Starsky and Hutch 60 minutes Streets of San Francisco 60 minutes Switch 60 minutes 1977 Baretta 60 minutes Barnaby Jones 60 minutes Barney Miller 30 minutes Carter Country 30 minutes Charlie's Angels 60 minutes CHiPs 60 minutes [Page 140] Hardy Boys Mysteries/Nancy Drew Mysteries 60 minutes Hawaii Five-O 60 minutes Kojak 60 minutes Police Woman 60 minutes Quincy, M.E. 60 minutes Rockford Files 60 minutes Rosetti and Ryan 60 minutes Starsky and Hutch 60 minutes Switch 60 minutes 1978 Barnaby Jones 60 minutes Barney Miller 30 minutes Carter Country 30 minutes Charlie's Angels 60 minutes CHiPs 60 minutes Eddie Capra Mysteries 60 minutes Hardy Boys Mysteries 60 minutes Hawaii Five-O 60 minutes Kaz 60 minutes Quincy, M.E. 60 minutes Rockford Files 60 minutes Starsky and Hutch 60 minutes Vega$ 60 minutes 1979 The Associates 30 minutes Barnaby Jones 60 minutes Barney Miller 30 minutes Big Shamus, Little Shamus 60 minutes Charlie's Angels 60 minutes CHiPs 60 minutes Detective School 30 minutes Eischied 60 minutes Hart to Hart 60 minutes Hawaii Five-O 60 minutes Kate Loves a Mystery 60 minutes Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo 60 minutes Paris 60 minutes Quincy, M.E. 60 minutes Rockford Files 60 minutes Vega$ 60 minutes 1980 Barney Miller 30 minutes Charlie's Angels 60 minutes CHiPs 60 minutes Enos 60 minutes Freebie and the Bean 60 minutes Hart to Hart 60 minutes Hill Street Blues 60 minutes Lobo 60 minutes Magnum, P.I. 60 minutes Quincy, M.E. 60 minutes Vega$ 60 minutes [Page 141] Walking Tall 60 minutes 1981 Barney Miller 30 minutes CHiPs 60 minutes Hart to Hart 60 minutes Hill Street Blues 60 minutes Magnum, P.I. 60 minutes McClain's Law 60 minutes Quincy, M.E. 60 minutes Shannon 60 minutes Simon & Simon 60 minutes Strike Force 60 minutes Today's F.B.I. 60 minutes 1982 Cagney & Lacey 60 minutes CHiPs 60 minutes Devlin Connection 60 minutes Hart to Hart 60 minutes Hill Street Blues 60 minutes Magnum, P.I. 60 minutes Matt Houston 60 minutes Quincy, M.E. 60 minutes Remington Steele 60 minutes Simon & Simon 60 minutes T. J. Hooker 60 minutes Tucker's Witch 60 minutes 1983 Hardcastle & McCormick 60 minutes Hart to Hart 60 minutes Hill Street Blues 60 minutes Magnum, P.I. 60 minutes Matt Houston 60 minutes The Mississippi 60 minutes Remington Steele 60 minutes Simon & Simon 60 minutes T. J. Hooker 60 minutes 1984 Cagney & Lacey 60 minutes Hardcastle & McCormick 60 minutes Hawaiian Heat 60 minutes Hill Street Blues 60 minutes Hot Pursuit 60 minutes Hunter 60 minutes Jessie 60 minutes Magnum, P.I. 60 minutes Matt Houston 60 minutes Miami Vice 60 minutes Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer 60 minutes Murder, She Wrote 60 minutes Night Court 30 minutes Partners in Crime 60 minutes Remington Steele 60 minutes [Page 142] Riptide 60 minutes Simon & Simon 60 minutes T. J. Hooker 60 minutes 1985 Cagney & Lacey 60 minutes Crazy Like a Fox 60 minutes The Equalizer 60 minutes Hardcastle & McCormick 60 minutes Hill Street Blues 60 minutes Hollywood Beat 60 minutes Hunter 60 minutes Lady Blue 60 minutes Lime Street 60 minutes Magnum, P.I. 60 minutes Miami Vice 60 minutes Moonlighting 60 minutes Murder, She Wrote 60 minutes Night Court 30 minutes Our Family Honor 60 minutes Remington Steele 60 minutes Riptide 60 minutes Simon & Simon 60 minutes Spenser: For Hire 60 minutes 1986 Cagney & Lacey 60 minutes Crime Story 60 minutes Downtown 60 minutes The Equalizer 60 minutes Heart of the City 60 minutes Hill Street Blues 60 minutes Hunter 60 minutes LA. Law 60 minutes Magnum, P.I. 60 minutes Matlock 60 minutes Miami Vice 60 minutes Moonlighting 60 minutes Murder, She Wrote 60 minutes New Mike Hammer 60 minutes Night Court 30 minutes Simon & Simon 60 minutes Sledge Hammer 30 minutes Spenser: For Hire 60 minutes 1987 Cagney & Lacey 60 minutes Crime Story 60 minutes The Equalizer 60 minutes Hooperman 30 minutes Houston Knights 60 minutes Hunter 60 minutes J. J. Starbuck 60 minutes Jake and the Fatman 60 minutes LA. Law 60 minutes [Page 143] The Law and Harry McGraw 60 minutes Leg Work 60 minutes Magnum, P.I. 60 minutes Matlock 60 minutes Miami Vice 60 minutes Moonlighting 60 minutes Murder, She Wrote 60 minutes Night Court 30 minutes Ohara 60 minutes The Oldest Rookie 60 minutes Private Eye 60 minutes Sledge Hammer 30 minutes Spenser: For Hire 60 minutes 21 Jump Street 60 minutes Wiseguy 60 minutes 1988 America's Most Wanted 30 minutes The Equalizer 60 minutes Hooperman 30 minutes Hunter 60 minutes In the Heat of the Night 60 minutes Knightwatch 60 minutes L.A. Law 60 minutes Matlock 60 minutes Miami Vice 60 minutes Moonlighting 60 minutes Murder, She Wrote 60 minutes Murphy's Law 60 minutes Night Court 30 minutes Police Story 120 minutes Simon and Simon 60 minutes Sonny Spoon 60 minutes 21 Jump Street 60 minutes Wiseguy 60 minutes 1989 ABC Saturday Mystery: 120 minutes B. L. Stryker/Columbo/Kojak/Christine Cromwell America's Most Wanted 30 minutes Booker 60 minutes Cops 30 minutes Hunter 60 minutes In the Heat of the Night 60 minutes Jake and the Fatman 60 minutes L.A. Law 60 minutes Mancuso, FBI 60 minutes Matlock 60 minutes Murder, She Wrote 60 minutes Night Court 30 minutes Snoops 60 minutes 21 Jump Street 60 minutes Wiseguy 60 minutes [Page 144] Wolf 60 minutes 1990 Against the Law 60 minutes America's Most Wanted 60 minutes Cop Rock 60 minutes Cops 30 minutes D.E.A. 60 minutes Father Dowling Mysteries 60 minutes Gabriel's Fire 60 minutes Hunter 60 minutes In the Heat of the Night 60 minutes Jake and the Fatman 60 minutes LA. Law 60 minutes Law & Order 60 minutes Matlock 60 minutes Murder, She Wrote 60 minutes Night Court 30 minutes Top Cops 30 minutes Trials of Rosie O'Neill 60 minutes 1991 America's Most Wanted 60 minutes American Detective 30 minutes The Antagonists 60 minutes The Commish 60 minutes Cops 60 minutes FBI: The Untold Stories 30 minutes I'll Fly Away 60 minutes In the Heat of the Night 60 minutes Jake and the Fatman 60 minutes L.A. Law 60 minutes Law & Order 60 minutes Murder, She Wrote 60 minutes Night Court 30 minutes Pacific Station 30 minutes Palace Guard 60 minutes Pros and Cons 60 minutes Reasonable Doubts 60 minutes Top Cops 60 minutes Trials of Rosie O'Neill 60 minutes 1992 America's Most Wanted 60 minutes Angel Street 60 minutes Civil Wars 60 minutes The Commish 60 minutes Cops 60 minutes Hat Squad 60 minutes I'll Fly Away 60 minutes In the Heat of the Night 60 minutes L.A. Law 60 minutes Law & Order 60 minutes Likely Suspects 30 minutes [Page 145] Murder, She Wrote 60 minutes Picket Fences 60 minutes Reasonable Doubts 60 minutes The Round Table 60 minutes Secret Service 60 minutes Top Cops 60 minutes 1993 America's Most Wanted 60 minutes Bakersfield P.D. 30 minutes The Commish 60 minutes Cops 60 minutes In the Heat of the Night 60 minutes L.A. Law 60 minutes Law & Order 60 minutes Matlock 60 minutes Missing Persons 60 minutes Murder, She Wrote 60 minutes NYPD Blue 60 minutes Picket Fences 60 minutes South of Sunset 60 minutes Walker, Texas Ranger 60 minutes 1994 America's Most Wanted 60 minutes The Commish 60 minutes Cops 60 minutes The Cosby Mysteries 60 minutes Diagnosis Murder 60 minutes Due South 60 minutes Homicide: Life on the Streets 60 minutes Law & Order 60 minutes Murder, She Wrote 60 minutes NYPD Blue 60 minutes New York Undercover 60 minutes Picket Fences 60 minutes Sweet Justice 60 minutes Under Suspicion 60 minutes Walker, Texas Ranger 60 minutesSOURCE: Data drawn from Brooks and Marsh (1995).NOTE: Program must feature some aspect of law, policing, or criminality.[Page 146] Table A.2 Network Prime-Time Hours of Crime and Law Enforcement Programming, 1947–1994 Year Hours in Prime Time Per Week 1947 0 1948 0 1949 2.5 1950 5 1951 6.5 1952 6.5 1953 4 1954 4.5 1955 2 1956 1 1957 4.5 1958 7.5 1959 11.5 1960 13 1961 14.5 1962 7 1963 7 1964 4.5 1965 5.5 1966 4 1967 6 1968 10.5 1969 8.5 1970 11.5 1971 15 1972 13.5 1973 20.5 1974 18.5 1975 22.5 1976 17.5 1977 14 1978 12 1979 14.5 1980 11.5 1981 10.5 1982 12 1983 9 1984 17.5 1985 18.5 1986 17 1987 22.5 1988 17.5 1989 15.5 1990 15.5 1991 17 1992 16.5 1993 13.5 1994 15NOTE: Calculated from Table A.1.[Page 147] Table A.3 Network Prime-Time Programs Whose Main or Lead Characters Include Uniformed Patrol Officers 1947 None 1948 None 1949 None 1950 None 1951 None 1952 None 1953 Man Behind the Badge 30 minutes 1954 None 1955 Wanted 30 minutes 1956 None 1957 None 1958 None 1959 None 1960 None 1961 Car 54, Where Are You? 30 minutes 1962 Car 54, Where Are You? 30 minutes 1963 None 1964 None 1965 None 1966 None 1967 None 1968 Adam 12 30 minutes 1969 Adam 12 30 minutes 1970 Adam 12 30 minutes 1971 Adam 12 30 minutes 1972 Adam 12 30 minutes The Rookies 60 minutes 1973 Adam 12 30 minutes Police Story 60 minutes The Rookies 60 minutes 1974 Adam 12 30 minutes Nakia 60 minutes Police Story 60 minutes The Rookies 60 minutes 1975 Joe Forrester 60 minutes Police Story 60 minutes The Rookies 60 minutes 1976 Blue Knight 60 minutes [Page 148] Police Story 60 minutes 1977 CHiPs 60 minutes 1978 CHiPs 60 minutes 1979 CHiPs 60 minutes 1980 CHiPs 60 minutes Hill Street Blues 60 minutes 1981 CHiPs 60 minutes Hill Street Blues 60 minutes 1982 CHiPs 60 minutes Hill Street Blues 60 minutes T. J. Hooker 60 minutes 1983 Hill Street Blues 60 minutes T. J. Hooker 60 minutes 1984 Hill Street Blues 60 minutes T. J. Hooker 60 minutes 1985 Hill Street Blues 60 minutes Our Family Honor 60 minutes 1986 Hill Street Blues 60 minutes 1987 None 1988 Police Story 120 minutes 1989 Cops 30 minutes 1990 Cop Rock 60 minutes Cops 30 minutes Top Cops 30 minutes 1991 Cops 60 minutes Top Cops 30 minutes 1992 Cops 60 minutes Top Cops 30 minutes 1993 Bakersfield P.D. 30 minutes Cops 60 minutes 1994 Cops 60 minutesNOTE: Program must feature uniformed, regular, nonranking, patrol police officers as lead characters.
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About the Author[Page 160]
David D. Perlmutter teaches political communication at Louisiana State University's Manship School of Mass Communication in Baton Rouge. He is author of Photojournalism and Foreign Policy (1998), Visions of War (1999), and editor of the Manship School Guide to Political Communication (1999).