There's a reason films are often based on true stories and don't claim to be true stories. If they did, then people would probably not watch a lot of these films. The say a film is based on a true story so that they can take a real story and make it entertaining enough for a mass audience.
In other words, Hollywood creates a depiction of professions completely wrong, for the most part. The most common profession they almost always get wrong is the police.
Over the years, film directors and television shows have done things to make cops more exciting to watch. A lot of the time, cops spend their entire day filling out paperwork or working on a routine traffic accident. It is not as entertaining or exciting as Hollywood would have you believe.
So let's break it down and talk about the 20 things Hollywood gets so very wrong about police.
20 Taking Citizen's Vehicles
Hollywood likes to make us believe that if a cop is involved in a police chase, and they need a vehicle to continue their pursuit of the suspect, they can just commandeer anyone's vehicle, usually by force, with no consequence
There is technically a law that allows them to enlist the help of an adult but it is rarely ever used because it would involve so many problems, and paperwork, that it would be easier to just let the suspect go instead.
19 Drawing Weapons During An Interrogations
There's that familiar interrogation scene in cop movies that always leads to a police officer pulling a gun on the person being interviewed. Some times, it is done in such a forceful manner that it scares the living daylights out of the suspect.
Although it makes for a very dramatic moment, it is one of those things that only happens if the suspect is considered a threat. That can't really happen since a person cannot just walk into a police station and enter the interrogation room with a weapon on them. It could happen, but so could the discovery of the Loch Ness monster.
18 Doing Paperwork
Ask any police officer what a typical day looks like and they will quickly tell you that they spend most of their day filling out paperwork. Whether they are in the field or in the office, it is all about the paperwork.
Some reports have estimated that a police officer will end up doing paperwork close to 85% of their shift, but there is nothing exciting about watching John McClane file paperwork at the end of Die Hard.
17 Police Stations Do Not Store Substances For Very Long
This is usually a blockbuster film problem that tends to happen over and over again. In Bad Boys, there is $100 million dollars of heroin, which was seized from the mafia, stolen from a police vault. The entire film revolves around figuring out who did it.
Sadly, however, no precinct in the country will reveal how they handle seized drugs, but they will tell you that they do not keep them sitting around a police vault for more than a couple days.
16 Breaking Down Doors Is Much Tougher
Have you ever tried to break down someone's locked door? If you did it by kicking it once, you are probably an X-Men because it is all but impossible to do with one try. Even if you were a former NFL linebacker and you were using your shoulder to do it, you have about a 1% chance to do so on the first try.
You would need the perfect situation to land it the first time. That's why so many policeman have a secret method they use instead. It is called knocking.
15 Most Police Departments Do Not Have The Latest Technology
Life would be so easy for police officers if they all had access to the same technology we see on shows like CSI or Law & Order. It works in the fictional world because police departments are not privately funded. Taxpayers fund police departments so budgets are relatively small.
It is sad to say, but most police stations use much older technology because it works well enough to help them solve crimes. It is hard for any police department to justify the need for a 3D printer.
14 Criminal Profiling Is Not Used Often
In order to understand criminal profiling, you need to understand its purpose. It is not used to pinpoint a particular subject; rather, it is used to help narrow the field of potential suspects by figuring out certain characteristics the suspect might possess.
Hollywood would have us think that they use it all the time, but it is actually something only used for high-profile murder cases. It is also not usually the reason they solve a case, but it does help guide them.
13 The Safety Is In The Trigger
A small, but subtle, action that most fictional police officers will do after drawing their weapons and pursuing a suspect is flicking off the safety on their handguns. Most of the time, it goes unnoticed, but we all know it was simply added for that extra drama.
However, most people do not know that the safety is actually built into the trigger of the gun. When they pull the trigger, the safety releases.
12 Not All Suspects Talk
Since there are a ton of real-life police shows that follow detectives trying to solve a murder case, we all get a chance to really see what it is like for the real cops.
One of the aspects of investigating a murder is interviewing suspects. Most of the time, the suspects will talk on the big screen. In reality, the suspects rarely talk and normally ask for a lawyer.
11 Limited Crime Scene Access
In every movie or TV show featuring a crime scene, there are always a countless number of people roaming around the scene, including onlookers standing nearby trying to get a glance at what happened.
However, to prevent crime scenes from being compromised, only a handful— or less— of people are allowed near it because everything is evidence.
10 The Film "48 Hours" Is So Wrong
It looked real, but there is never a time when a police officer is going to walk into a prison with nothing more than a piece of paper and have a criminal released temporarily in order to help him solve a crime.
As much fun as we had watching Nick Nolte reluctantly partner up with Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours, something like that would take far more paperwork and a ton of connections to gt done.
9 Undercover Cops Can't Participate In Illegal Activities
If a police officer goes undercover, there are a ton of rules involved in maintaining credibility throughout their mission. In other words, if they are going to convict anyone from their work, the one thing they cannot do is compromise themselves.
The moment an undercover cop participates in any illegal activities, they are normally pulled out right away because once they get to court, they will no longer be able to provide a credible report against the suspect.
8 Specialists Do Not Work By Themselves
One of the best ever television shows featuring police officers as part the main cast was Dexter. But the one thing the show regularly got wrong was that Dexter was not a cop, he was a blood spatter analyst, and he would help get tons of criminals put in jail.
Specialists like Dexter do not ever work by themselves and tend to only be used in high profile cases that require some assistance in pointing detectives in the right direction. Specialists rarely solve the case either.
7 Cops Do Not Shoot To Wound
Almost every classic cop film or TV show has at least one scene where the police officer draws their weapon and takes down a suspect by shooting them in a specific location on the body, like a leg or thigh, to disable them without killing them.
However, this is not the case at all. Cops are trained to shoot to stop, which involves shooting a suspect in the center mass area, which is the largest target on the body of a suspect— but also the most effective.
6 Questioning Suspects Is Not A Group Project
Everyone remembers the scene from Basic Instinct where Sharon Stone is being interrogated in front of a group of police officers and she does her infamous leg crossing move where she exposes herself to the room.
Although it is a classic movie scene, the odds of that many officers questioning one suspect is nearly 0%. There is just never a time when so many people are needed to question one person, it makes no sense.
5 Cocking Their Guns On The Scene
For dramatic purposes, when a police officer is approaching his suspect on the big screen, a majority of the time he will rack his gun, or pull the slide all the way back to empty the chamber. This is best known as cocking your gun and can add some intensity to any scene.
But police officers should already have their guns loaded and ready to go when on duty. There is no time when a cop will need to do this unless maybe his gun jams.
4 The Good Cop, Bad Cop Routine
This one actually does work, but it happens very differently than in the movies or on television. Instead of the police officers standing outside an interrogation room deciding who is going to be the good cop and who is going to be the bad cop, they usually just feed off one another instead.
It is more about approaching the suspect differently, and not sticking to being really nice and really mean. That is easy to spot and people are just not that dumb.
3 Police Officers Are Not Superheroes
Die Hard is the standard by which all other police films should be measured. It was amazingly entertaining and yet somehow John McLane (Bruce Willis) made us all believe that it could really happen. But that was all on Bruce Willis and his ability to be likable in just about everything he does.
In reality, the likelihood that a police officer, of any rank, would be able to stand up against former highly-trained military terrorists, is a joke. He might be able to get a few by surprise, but it would not take long before he would go down.
2 The Job Is Not Dangerous All The Time
A police television series, or a film featuring cops, tends to make the job look very dangerous and full of action at all times. As we have already mentioned, the majority of police work involves paperwork, which they have to do a lot of.
The job can feature very dangerous situations and all cops need to be ready for anything, but spending each and every day in the middle of a police chase is just not accurate.
1 The Miranda Warning
One of the most commonly repeated cop mistakes Hollywood is having them read a suspects the Miranda Warning the second they are arrested. It helps with adding drama to the scene, but it is hardly ever the case.
Cops that end up handcuffing someone and putting them into a police car might read them their Miranda Warning, but only if they plan on conducting an interview before they get to the station, which is even rarer.
Sources: ET Online, Variety, The Verge