5 things that happen in cop movies that never happen in real life

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A question posted on Quora asked, “What happens in cop movies that never does in real life?” Retired cop Al Saibini gave his opinion on the topic, below. Check it out and share your thoughts in the comments.

  1. The cops engage in high-speed pursuits, smashing cars willy-nilly, with no repercussions, even when doing so in unmarked cars. There is such a thing as liability.
  2. The police recover DNA evidence which is analyzed and matched to a suspect in hours. In reality, this process takes weeks or months, depending on the backlog of samples at the lab, which will likely not be at the police department.
  3. A cop discovers a package of a suspected controlled substance and rubs some on his gums to determine what it is. No one but an idiot ever did this. While most drugs have a distinctive odor/flavor, ingesting any of it is just stupid. There’s no way of telling what it may have been adulterated with and not all dope peddlers are scrupulous about what they whack their product with. It might be benign or it might be fentanyl…or battery acid.
  4. Cops get involved in shootouts and carry on as if nothing happened. No investigation, no statements, no administrative leave, no Federal civil rights investigation, no PTSD. The PTSD may or may not manifest, but everything else is a foregone conclusion, including the inevitable civil suit. A friend of mine has had to defend himself against OIS civil suits twice in the course of a 30-year career - fortunately, successfully.
  5. Cases get tossed because of a “technicality” and some ADA has to explain to a seasoned homicide detective what probable cause is. Or a detective wants the ADA to “find a cooperative judge” in order to get a warrant, as though there’s no requirement for an affidavit in support of the warrant (probable cause again). In reality, the detective undoubtedly has forgotten more about what constitutes probable cause than the ADA knows.

Mrs. S. (the former 911 operator) and I watch a lot of cop shows. Some are good, some are less good, all of them sometimes cause us to point and laugh.

NEXT: Policing Matters Podcast: The best cop movies in film history

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