Archive for February, 2015

Police dramas have explored the most urgent complications attending the role of law enforcement in a democratic society. Cop shows have trained a critical gaze on police authority by depicting corruption and the limits and abuses of police power, as well the substantial personal and emotional costs of working in law enforcement for the officers themselves (Grant, 1992). As agents of the state, cops have the ability to arrest citizens and compel them to obey commands (“pull over!” “freeze!”), but they are also public servants required to uphold the law as it exists. Police shows frequently figure this relationship as a tension between the institutional constraints of the “system” and the cops’ own personal pursuit of justice, presenting police officers as rule-breaking individualists whose own private moral code potentially supersedes their devotion to the law or their tolerance for the bureaucracy of the justice process (White, 2008). In many cases, this intolerance is presented as a justified form of anger against a system hamstrung by regulations that favour criminals over victims. There are several television shows both Australian and American which portray police in different ways. This includes both positive and negative depictions, which allows us to come to our own conclusions about what the police force is really like. Some of these shows are based on factual evidence and documentaries and others are just fictional dramas to show us the exciting and glamorous lives that come with being a police officer. Certain fictional dramas have also come to show police officers as being corrupt and taking advantage of the power they hold but in my opinion this is not just fictional but rather a reality that must be dealt with in order to clean up crime in our streets (Grant, 1992).


The Shield is a prime example of a “cop show” where there is a team of officers who represent the face of evil in entertainment media. Alonzo and Mackey are menacing, rough cops who rule their urban environment like the street gangs and criminals who live in the same area. Mackey, however, is not a cowboy struggling to dish out justice in an untamed land. Nor is he a Dirty Harry, forced to operate outside the law because the justice system ties his hands in dealing with those who have no fear of the law (Grant, 2002). Instead, Mackey takes more than a little glee in beating suspects, planting evidence, stealing from criminals, taking payoffs, setting up his fellow officers to take the fall for his crimes, and playing mind games with investigators seeking to uncover his misdeeds. And yet, there are a significant number of moments in Mackey’s life where he is driven more by the need to catch the bad guy at all costs than by selfishness. There are plenty of evil story lines in The Shield for Mackey. For example, he is willing to participate in theft in an effort to get his strike team buddies some reward, even as he does not particularly desire it at that moment for himself. In another theft scheme, Mackey desperately wants dirty money, but for the purpose of sending his autistic son to a special school and getting him a skilled tutor. It should be recalled that this is a denial of self that Alonzo does not evidence as he portrays evil-for-itself. While Mackey does commit crimes and does not enforce the law to the fullest extent in some cases, his actions are typically tempered by a higher calling of some perceived greater good or, post-dirty deeds, are tinged with remorse. For example, he executes a fellow police officer; that behaviour is evil. Mackey does so because the officer was planted on his team by a boss that cares largely about a coming election and the great publicity that a “dirty cop” arrest would bring to his campaign. Later, Mackey is haunted by the killing, which sets him up as not evil but vulnerable and, oddly, even righteous. This quality makes Mackey complex, beyond good and evil. Moreover, what sets Mackey apart from Alonzo is the balancing act between good and evil that Mackey must play an act that Alonzo doesn’t see the need to do. In films, cops are represented as being wholly good or wholly bad, where both do not meet (Grant 1992). That is the key to The Shield, to explore the ambiguity.


Joe Clarke, an African American training officer with a propensity for exacting extreme brutality on suspected criminals of colour, is also a bad cop in the show. Like Alonzo, Joe has a deadly, violent temper that is displayed through fearsome beatings. Joe, is no longer a member of the police force because of a beating he gave a young Latino and suspected drug dealer. Joe’s rage against the victim can only be quelled once the young man is dead; a murder that Joe forces Mackey into committing, and an act that Mackey must suffer for. Therefore, unlike Alonzo, and now Joe, Mackey’s crimes are never purely self-serving as he eventually expresses some remorse about the manner in which he has to, or is forced to, to conduct law enforcement. Additionally, Mackey is tempered by his fellowship with his strike team, colleagues, and other more forthright detectives. In the end, it is Mackey’s allegiance to others, his sense of fellowship that requires him to consistently choose what he believes is the good that serves others rather than himself. Taken together, the depictions of Mackey and Jake (also a cop) in contrast with Alonzo and Joe suggest an inescapable racial essence with Blackness distinct from Whiteness and, thus, the element in making sense of each character’s relationship with evil (Grant, 2002). Mackey is constructed as a bad cop with good intentions, while Jake is a good cop trying to remain so in the face of evil (Alonzo). And Alonzo and Joe are bad cops, with no good intentions. Overall, The Shield utilizes a discourse that emphasizes racial signifiers and class positioning to portray a social environment that justifies the presence of such troublesome policing.

The 1973 Knapp Report stated that there are three primary types of police officers, the meat-eaters, the grass-eaters and the birds. The meat-eaters constitute a small percentage of all officers who aggressively pursue scenarios that they can exploit for financial gain. Big payoffs are found in activities such as gambling and narcotics. Lucrative gains corrupt the meat-eaters to the point that the only way to check their abuses is by releasing them from duty and possibly prosecuting them (Comack, 2012). Grass-eaters are those officers who do not accept payoffs or gratuities. They make up the overwhelming majority of officers on the force. On the other hand, the birds keep out of it and are not directly involved. Although they may have knowledge about the situation, they choose not to interfere or say anything. Majority of the officers in The Shield are seen as meat-eaters as they engage in activities that would not be acceptable or appropriate for the everyday duties of a normal “good” cop.

According to Comack, there are two basic theories that have been posited to explain police corruption, the rotten apple theory and the environmental perspective. According to the rotten apple theory, there are a few bad apples within police departments who were not properly screened and came into the department susceptible to corruption. The environmental perspective suggests that police corruption is a reflection and a result of the political corruption in cities. Politically corrupt cities create environments that are conducive to police misconduct.

Since the 19th century, the aim has been to sell the police as crime fighters, downplaying the service function and problems of legality. The depiction of police in television dramas today is not necessarily realistic or positive in any way, shape or form. Rather I believe it is the total opposite of this. In almost every crime television series, the police almost always apprehend the suspect and solve the crime. This portrayal is far from the truth and in reality every single crime doesn’t get solved. Most television series about police officers have turned into a soap opera where it follows the lives and relationships of individual people in the force, not to mention that everything is blown way out of proportion. Executive producers of crime television dramas glamorize the life of a police officer by adding all the excitement of chasing criminals in cars, shooting at every chance they get, hot pursuits and solving every crime. However, in reality being a police officer involves a lot of tedious paperwork and writing up reports to explain every single detail that happened when they were called out to a disturbance or alleged crime. Police are portrayed as masculine, smart, full of martial arts skills, fit, aggressive, action packed, always willing to shoot at suspects and so on. The sad reality is that the public want to see all the excitement and glamour of being a police officer because no one wants to watch a show where police are filling out forms and writing up boring reports. Then does all this glamour and excitement encourage people to join the police force in order to get justice or for the simple reason that they get to shoot at someone or chase a suspect in a high speed car pursuit? In reality, police often deal with false reporting of crimes where valuable resources are wasted on prank callers and mediating work.


Comack, E. (2012). Racialized policing: Aboriginal people’s encounters with the police. Halifax, N.S: Fernwood Pub.

Grant, J. “Prime Time Crime: Television Portrayals of Law Enforcement.” Journal of American Culture, v.lS/1 (1992).

Grant, J. “The Shield,” Picturing Justice: The On-Line Journal of Law and Popular Culture, 22 May 2002. Retrieved from: <;

White, R & Haines, F. Crime and Criminology – An introduction, 4th edn, Oxford University Press, USA. (2008)

Police Deviance in Popular culture


Fictional representations of policing through Television (TV) programs and movies often portray police officers in an unrealistic manner. Unfortunately, many people (including myself) receive their information and knowledge about police through mass media (Reiner, 2010). This can be a cause for concern, as what is shown on TV or films, in regards to policing and police deviance are generally glamorized, or overly exemplified. The media’s image of policing does not depart from actual policing, but cannot be considered a mirror reflection either (Reiner, 2012).

Many police programs demonstrate rule- bending as an essential part of effective policing (Surette, 2007, as cited in Dirikx, Van den Bulck & Parmentier, 2012). The TV series “19-2” centers on two beat cops of the Montreal Police Department, Nick Barron played by Adrian Holmes and Ben Chartier played by Jared Keeso. This TV series provides many instances when police deviance and police misconduct occur and is normalized or not spoken of. Nick, a veteran cop gets partnered with a new transfer from a rural Quebec town (Ben) and from the very beginning Ben is introduced to the police culture at his new department. The police culture as Loftus, (2010) states are norms and values that shape officers everyday decisions and practices. We see many occasions where the actions of police officers are a result of the police culture. For example, every rookie must have an initiation and this series does not deviate from that cultural norm. Ben gets invited to the tavern which is the police pub and is offered his first drink (for free of course), and he takes it. While watching this I thought why he wouldn’t take the drink, had he refused he would have looked a fool.

The police culture is such that had Ben not taken the drink he would have been called on it, and would be considered more of an outsider than he already is. Within the first thirty minutes we see the sergeant tell Nick –who is irritated for being paired with a rookie – the “Commander shits on me, I shit on you…and you’ll have to go shit on the new guy” (Grou, 2014). The Sergeant then goes on to tell him that it’s just the way things work. This further elucidates the police culture in their precinct. Towards the end of the episode the Commanding Officer calls Ben into his office and instructs him to “cooperate” and give him cause to get his partner (Nick) fired. The Commander ends with “I think we have an understanding” (Grou, 2014). Ben was left with no choice as his patrol duty would be compromised and he would be given administrative work. However, when it came time to “rat out” on Nick –and there were many things Ben could have said, as Nick strays from the book –Ben refused to say anything responding with “he is my partner, there is a code” (Grou, 2014). The code Ben is implying would be what is referred to as the “Blue code of Silence”. This code is a key element in the police culture, as officers refrain from speaking about other officers and will lie to benefit their fellow officers. Accepting the code of silence and solidarity allows you to belong.19-2 (1) Ben did not deviate from the police culture norms as he kept his partner from getting fired, and as a result was given a desk job. During the second episode Ben catches one of the officers drinking on the job, and you can see the pained look on his face as he is struggling to uphold the blue wall, while also longing to say something. Ben has done this quite a few times already, where either he turns a blind eye or lies to save his partner, and this could lead to deviance is his career. He may be disturbed by what he is doing, however continuing to do so he will eventually become habituated (Punch, 2010).

As Punch, (2010) indicates there are many types of police officers and Nick portrays the “Dirty Harry”. He uses tough methods that are somewhat deviant which he deems appropriate to result in an arrest. He would use more violence when dealing with the public to get information, and it usually results in him finding the actual suspect. He would then explain to Ben that this is how it is done. Nick would rather deviate and get the job done doing whatever it took rather than let a criminal walk free. Ben on the other hand is what Punch, (2010) refers to as a “Professional”. He would not allow for procedure to be unlawfully enacted, and he works by the book. He considers his job very important, and relies on good, honest policing. Many other types of officers are also illustrated in the TV series. We see “crusaders” these officers are usually on the hunt for criminals and are obsessed with crime fighting; there are other officers who would be classified as Dirty Harrys’ as well. Lastly we also see a “Cowboy”. This officer is usually highly aggressive and would have issues with authority. The officer in the show picks on Ben and insults him through “jokes”. Punch, (2010) also discusses three levels of deviance, and many of the officers would also be classified as Grass eaters. Grass Eaters typically don’t look for trouble, or ways to deviate, but if something comes there way they are open to accept. For example, the officers all accept free meals and drink at their police pub. The officers accept the drinks, otherwise they would be considered deviant had they chosen not to participate.

Throughout the episode we see many forms of deviance and how it is either thought to be normal, or you turn a blind eye. In this series we also get to see what Van Maanen, (2005) refers to as “the asshole”. maxresdefaultVan Maanen, (2005) classifies citizens three ways: suspicious persons, know nothings and the asshole. The officers encounter daily interactions with the asshole. These people have no respect for them nor do they care for what they stand for. As a result, Nick may use excessive force towards these people and possibly jeopardize his career. They also encounter the know nothings, who nod their heads, and make their way, and the suspicious persons (mostly the troubled teenagers). Nick is able to justify his actions towards these people, because they are assholes. The lack of respect can allow an officer to perform “street justice” and rough up the individual they are dealing with (Van Maanen, 2005).

The representation of deviance in this police series is seen as normal, and will continue to be the norm, unless someone challenges it. However, it seems quite unlikely anyone will. Most of the officers are comfortable with the way things are and will not be susceptible to change. This media representation of the police department wasn’t as bad as many of the other police shows I have seen. They usually tend to glamorize and commend acts of violence to get the job done. 19-2 was raw and real, but of course being a TV series there will be many depictions of the police that are incorrect. The image this TV series provides is that police are generally accepted in the society and the public do respect them. Being a televised show they add a lot more high speed chases and crime fighting scenes than normal, and that contributes to a wrong view of what policing actually is. It makes the job seem like an action packed video game, when in reality most of policing isn’t fighting crime, but dealing with average problems that occur to citizens. It is important to note that while watching TV shows and movies about policing the media tend to over exaggerate and dramatize the whole thing. If we continue to receive our knowledge of policing through these fictional representations of action packed, crime fighting heroes, then everyone will want to be a cop. That being said policing is a dangerous job and they do portray the danger (just in a more glamorous way of course!)

19-2_Ep 6.23_Day 44_053.YanTurcotte.jpeg


Dirikx, A., Van den Bulck, J., & Parmentier, S. (2012). The Police as Societal Moral Agents:   “Procedural Justice” and the Analysis of Police Fiction. Journal Of Broadcasting & Electronic Media56(1), 38-54.                       doi:10.1080/08838151.2011.651187

Grou, D (Director). (2014). 19-2 [Television series]. New York City: Bravo.

Loftus, B. (2010). Police occupational culture: classic themes, altered times. Policing and Society, 20(1), 1–20. doi:10.1080/10439460903281547

Punch, M. (2009). What is Corruption? In Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing (pp. 18-52). Portland: Willan Pub. [Coursepack]

Reiner, R. (2010). Mystifying the Police: The Media Presentation of Policing. In R. Reiner, The Politics of the police (Fourth, pp. 177-202). London: Oxford University Press

Van Maanen, J. (2005). The Asshole. In T. Newburn (Ed.), Policing: Key Readings (pp.280-296) Portland: Willan Pub [Coursepack]

Police Corruption shown in Media: Prison Break

Posted: February 28, 2015 by preet100 in Uncategorized

In today’s era we consume huge amounts of mass media through out our daily lives. A study conducted by San Diego Supercomputer Center has show that an average persons consumption of media will rise to 15.5 hours per day (Zverina, 2013). If we multiple that by week, by month, that is a total of 4557 hours per year. It is plain to see that a large amount of that will show either police goodness, or police deviance. Popular movies and series usually showing police deviance, so now police themselves have introduced they’re own series that depict what they do from they’re perspectives. Series like Border Patrol and Cops are a couple of examples. The real question is what the police officers are showing us is true, or is what non-police officers tell us is real? Or is it a simply a mixture of both?

Here is a link to see the list of how many cop shows, movies there are.

The fictional television series I will be focusing on in this blog is the hit series, Prison Break: which was released back in 2005 with a total of 4 seasons. Focusing just on season 1 we can see on multiple occasions where the police correction officers at the prison misuse they’re powers. They try to neutralize it by repeating to themselves that the prisoners are criminals and do not deserve rights. They practice Cohen’s technique of neutralization; literal denial, which involves them not taking serious matters seriously. Prison Break is based on a man named Michael Scofield, a structural engineer and a natural genius who deliberately gets himself into the same prison, Fox River State Penitentiary where his brother Lincoln Burrows is also incarcerated in. His goal is to escape from prison with his brother before Lincoln’s execution takes place. Since the prison is located in Illinois U.S.A the death penalty is permitted. Lincoln has been ‘set-up’ by bigger people than the government in order to frame him for murdering the vice-presidents brother. Michael, along with 8 prisoners go on a journey to find routes within the prison that they can use to escape to the other side. On the duration of executing the plan they undergo many incidents where correction officers misuse they’re power.

[picture here]

One officer who is primarily known for his deviance is Brad Bellick who is the captain at the prison. The first episode shows how he begins to show hatred towards Michael just because he feels threatened by Michael’s brains. His hatred towards Michael is so strong that he knowingly allows Abruzzi (Inmate) to attack Michael. The criminologist Punch says that we should not blame individual misconduct because the justice system is allowing for them to do it in the first place. Prison Break shows many cases of this throughout the episode, like the case where Abruzzi and his followers cut off one of Michael’s toes, while officer Bellick walks away purposely. Bellick is also known for taking money from inmates by either looking the other way or offering them something in return. A good example of this is how Bellick always Abruzzi to run P.I (a sweet job doing construction in the prison). Abruzzi pays him hundreds of dollars per month in order to keep his status in P.I. Bellick also uses his powers to make the P.I crew work past hours just because he wants to make them suffer.

Here is a video of Officer Bellick ‘looking the other way’

Bellick has such high suspicion of Michael that he gets the new inmate Tweezer to be the new ‘rat’. He bribes him with burgers and fries to report information, and when Tweezer was unable to offer him any valid information he threatened to make him pay him hundred dollars for the burger. He also unjustifiably puts him into another cell with a dangerous inmate just to show him whose boss. The inmate is known for raping his cellmates, and Bellick knew this while putting Tweezer into the cell. Bellick on several occasions goes into Michael’s cell without any justified reason to try to find something to get him in trouble. Later down in the season when Michael is temporarily not using his cell due to being in psych ward, another officer named Geary rents out his cell, and collects the payment, also known as ‘nut’ all for himself. He also steals valuables from prisoner’s belongings of the items they bring on their first day they arrive to prison. When the fuse box wires get chewed up by a rat, officer Geary and Bellick go against the books, and get the electrician to install a new one; even though this is not allowed without authorization.

[picture of Bellick here]

There is another incident where Michael’s cellmate Sucre gets into some trouble, and officer Bellick threatens to put even harsher charges on him if he does not tell the truth. While threatening him he assaults him by pushing him into the wall when he did not need to. There are a few other scenes where we catch officers engaging in sexual behavior on prison grounds, beating up inmates, drinking on the job, and threatening to put inmates in the solitary confinement. These are acts for about a little over half of the first season, but they do continue throughout the season with the emphasis of committing dishonesty from the officers. Clearly these officers have not abided by Peel’s Principles of Policing. His 8th point “Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary” has been neglected in the Prison. The police officers think they hold ultimate control of the prisoners. The inmates would never dare to report an incident of police corruption because they knew that either the documents would be ripped up, or they would get more hits from other officers for doing this.

Although the series were based in America, we can note that acts like these according to the constitution, and police ethics of the U.S are not allowed; yet the officers seem to be getting away with it. They are unable to fight for they’re first amendment, which allows anyone to come to the government for protection. The police officers are not following the amendments (which are equivalent to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom) that are guaranteed to each of the inmates that are in that prison. This is happening all due to officers putting up a blue wall of silence in order to protect they’re fellow officers. The brotherhood that they keep up so high has allowed police deviance throughout time. If this blue wall did not exist what would be the outcome in our justice system? The worst thing a cop wants to be is a snitch. I noticed in the show besides the officers, there is no one else, or organization that they are able to report police wrongdoing. This is with the exception of the warden, who they can only speak to if the officer allows them to, or if the warden himself wants to speak to. There is no usage of Knapp’s Commission Typology, which is a way to independently investigate Police Corruption. How can the prison ever be improved where these incidents get undocumented, and apples continue to get rotten.

Has mass media over produced police deviance? Is this what typically happens in prisons or is it just what we see on screen. The series Prison Break generally portrays the police officers to be a certain brand of convicts themselves, but they have done this so the viewers have a more likingness towards the inmates, instead of the officers. The director is aiming to get more ‘likes’ on the prisoners than the officers. It is clear they do this because they preview each one of the prisoners lives before getting caught, and do not do this with the officers. Media has shown the favoritism of movies, and series that show police corruption. Movies that have just recently come out are good examples about how current this still is. 21 Jump Street was a hit, along with Bad Cops. Are these movies just showing us what most entertains us because ‘real’ police work can be seen as slow, and unentertaining? Police corruption has clearly happened throughout prisons, and in the public. That is why there are hundreds of articles in newspapers, footage online that show us this. Numerous YouTube videos help any person in the entire world see first hand what police officers do that is unconstitutional in Canada, and in other parts of the world.

It is a fact that police officers do not make nearly as much as they do in America than they do in Canada. It is not surprising that certain police officers take forms of bribery to help with they’re bank accounts. To a naked eye seeing all these movies, and videos online, one begins to think of police officers as deviant, greedy bad guys that just happen to wear badges. To be frankly honest without even entering America, I would be cautious if I see any police officer in the States. This is not because I am doing anything wrong, but simply because media has embedded such an ugly portrayal about certain officers and departments like NYPD that are known for corruption without getting serious consequences.

Previously when I looked at Canadian Police Officers I would feel safe and secure. Now with the new information from media about the 17 officers in Abbotsford currently being investigated for misconduct under the Police Act, they have made me very skeptical. Another current case is the investigation of a few Toronto police officers that have been charged with sexual assault. I am beginning to question how good police accountability really is here in Canada. Bad people are always going to be around that is not what I am focusing on; it is why the system is allowing these things to happen. The real question I am currently asking myself is are these the only cases of police corruption or are these the only ones that the media have caught. Media has allowed the public to question our justice system so that we can make the change we want, or at least prevent injustice from happening.

This is a link that shows how working with the press needs to be done

Clearly what we see on TV isn’t all fiction, since we have numerous cases of police deviance happening all around us even currently. Reality is that police wrongdoing is happening, and it will continue happening because we are all human, and as humans we do make mistakes. The real issue is how to tackle holding police officers accountable for they’re actions. The justice system has been formed to hold the public accountable, but what are they doing to hold justice administrative’s accountable. If these issues do not get portrayed on media, then they go unnoticed, if they go unnoticed then it means more corruption is likely to happen. If more corruption happens, we will be no different from other countries around the world that allow officers to get away with anything they want. The corruption, misuse, and wrongdoing that occur within the police brotherhood ruins the name for all officers, and hurts the whole validity of the justice system. The ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality so famous in pop culture needs to fade away in order for police corruption to decrease.


Flynn, G. (2005, August 26). Prison Break. Retrieved from

Smart, G. (2014, December 30). How social media makes you think all cops are bad. Retrieved from

Zverina, J. (2013, January 1). U.S. Media Consumption to Rise to 15.5 Hours a Day – Per Person – by 2015. Retrieved from

Television shows involving crime and policing very much dominate prime-time television. But to what extent are these shows stylized portrayals of the realities of policing? Is police deviance glamorized, as opposed to conventional, legitimate policing? As argued by Cummins et. all, a repercussion of these shows is that “the day-to-day reality of policing is obscured from the vast majority of the public who have little direct contact with the Criminal Justice System” (2014).

One could argue that The Mentalist is one such show. The series follows Patrick Jane (played by Simon Baker), a once highly successful, affluent psychic. Jane had his wife and daughter murdered in consequence of his going on a national news show and taunting serial killer Red John, speaking on his motives and mental state, as well as his childhood. Spiraling into an unhealthy succession of rage, isolation, and depression following the murder, he admits his career was fraudulent and that no one possesses psychic powers. Rather, he’s simply very intelligent, observant, deductive, and socially skilled. Therefore, he is able to manipulate the average person.

Patrick Jane, in the process of working a case, masquerades as an inmate.

During his prolonged phase of despondency, Jane coincidentally stumbles into the office of the CBI (California Bureau of Investigation), and after some time they decide his talents are conspicuous enough for them to hire him as a consultant. To their surprise, he assists the CBI in closing virtually every case they come across. However, his ultimate underlying goal is to find and exact revenge on Red John. Despite being a member of an agency that rhapsodizes over the values of the justice system, Jane considers it a slow, tedious and broken process. Accordingly, his methods are very unorthodox and he regularly eludes police procedure, but he is efficient nonetheless.


The following clip exemplifies this:


Punch (2009, p. 25) has constructed a typology of “police officers and their relationship to deviance and corruption.” These include uniform carriers, mister average, professionals, noble causers, innovators and number crunchers, crusaders, ideological combatants, lone wolves, and cowboys. Though Patrick is not a police officer per se, he can be identified as a lone wolf, which is a category, Punch implies, that encompasses officers who are committed to one particular case and may resort to deviant means in order to solve it. For Jane, “committed” may be too weak a word to define his relationship with the Red John case. The sole reason he joined the CBI in the first place was to seek revenge on the killer, and he tirelessly pursues the case on his own time throughout the show. He is no stranger to aberrant methods, either. In one particular episode, he illegitimately gains access to Red John’s case files. He has repeatedly stated that if he ever comes face-to-face with Red John himself, he would not hesitate to kill him. He is also known to tamper with evidence to ensure that the guilty is found guilty.

Let us now shift our focus from Patrick Jane as a character and how his behavior embodies deviance, to a comparison of police/criminal investigation proceedings within the show and those in real life – fiction vs. reality. Furthermore, the interrelatedness of this and the show’s production of deviant policing related themes that appeal to viewers.

The portrayal of crime solving in The Mentalist is an obvious departure from reality, in that it is shown to be less challenging than it actually is. The video above, for example, is a simplistic depiction of crime scene investigation, in that Patrick makes huge assumptions from very little work upon arriving.  Cummins et. all assert that such condensed narratives are “almost completely divorced from the reality of modern police work” (2014). opting for vigilante justice rather than generally following the criminal justice system is indefinitely an indication of the show aiming for the allure of deviancy in policing, in contrast to conventional policing.  Additionally, Patrick will commonly convince members of his team to engage in his elaborate plans, that he constructs in order to deceive or persuade suspects one way or another (this includes tactics such as hypnotizing them, in certain episodes) to out themselves as the killer. The same applies to interrogations, as he will pry a confession out of a suspect, that he himself has systematically narrowed down as the wrongdoer, by any means necessary. This being the case, the manner in which interrogations are carried out is another big distinction in police procedure in the show compared to reality. The show takes place in California. As per California law, anytime an admission or confession made during police interrogation is involuntary, it is considered to be obtained through denial of due process of law (Robison, 1969, p. 740).  As a result, the confession is excluded from the evidence at the trial.  The show completely ignores the possibility of the evidence that Jane obtains illegitimately being thrown out. This affirms Cummins’ view that popular crime drama shows are “full of procedural errors. (p. 5).


Cummins suggests that the “dominant portrayal” of policing is one that pushes serious crimes, including murder and serial killers (p. 2), and this entirely captures the premise of The Mentalist. This is unambiguous sensationalization of police work. However, Cummins maintains that policing includes the element of routine just as any other job does, and so “a realistic drama would be unwatchable” (p. 3).


Resources cited:

  • Cummins, I., Foley, M., & King, M. (2014). ‘… And After the Break’: Police Officers’ Views of TV Crime Drama. Policing.
  • Punch, M. (2009). Police corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing. Routledge.
  • Robison, T. (1969). Police Interrogation of Suspects: The Court Versus the Congress. California Law Review, 740-777.

Representations of Police Deviance in Serpico

Posted: February 28, 2015 by jarnelldosanjh92 in Uncategorized

Serpico is a 1973 American crime drama film, based on a true story and starring Al Pacino as Frank Serpico. Waldo Salt and Norman Wexler wrote the screenplay, adapting Peter Maas’s biography of officer Frank Serpico, who went undercover to expose corruption in the New York Police Force. While working as a uniformed patrolman, Frank Serpico shines through at every assignment. He moves on to plainclothes assignments, where he slowly discovers a hidden world of corruption and deviance among his own colleagues. After witnessing cops commit violence against suspect, taking payoffs, and other forms of police corruption, Serpico decides to expose what he has seen, but he is harassed and threatened by his fellow officers. The struggle leads to infighting within the police force, problems in his personal relationships, and Serpico’s life being threatened. Finally, after being shot in the face during a drug operation on February 3, 1971, he testifies before the Knapp Commission, a government inquiry into NYPD police corruption between 1970 and 1972. After receiving a New York City Police Department Medal of Honor and a disability pension, Serpico resigns from the police force and moves to Switzerland.

The Knapp Commission was a committee of five citizens that investigated corrupt activities of police officers, detectives, and supervisors working in the New York Police Department. The Knapp Commission found that the most serious police misconduct involved situations like providing protection for illegal gambling establishments, selling narcotics, overlooking building code violations on construction sites, and tolerating illegal parking in the commercial district (Armstrong, 2012).The Knapp Commission discovered that corrupt NYPD police officers were collecting protection money and were on the “pad,” which meant that they took bribes from criminals to ensure the criminals that their illegal activities could continue without the threat of being investigated by the police. Many of the criminals involved in bribing police officers prior to the Knapp Commission were involved in vice crime rackets like prostitution and gambling. However, the Knapp Commission and subsequent investigations found that the flow of money involved in the illicit narcotics trade afforded new corruption opportunities. One of the commission’s chief witnesses was a police officer named William Phillips who was caught receiving bribes during an investigation conducted by the commission. The Commission also established that there were two different kinds of corrupt officers; these were the so-called grass eaters, and meat eaters. Meat eaters are police officers who “aggressively misuse their police powers for personal gain”(H-Net,1997). Grass eaters are officers who simply accept payoffs that the happenstances of police work throw their way; basically grass eaters are officers of all ranks who took bribes to allow gamblers, prostitutes and other criminals to avoid the law and escape arrest (NY Times,1994).

Media representations of the police are important in understanding the significance of policing. The media do present the police in a favorable way. News stories portray cops in the way they want to see themselves, particularly “as the thin blue line between order and chaos”(Reiner, 2010). The police are cast as the heroes who protect the victimized weak from the criminal underworld. Before the 1970’s police deviance stories were reported through a one bad apple framework. Such stories implied that there was only one individual who was committing wrongdoings. This kind of news reporting proved to the audience that the whole police force was still legitimate, the police force just had one rotten apple so to say. Media reporting presently has time and time again placed corruption reports “in a framework that legitimizes the police institution at the same time as reporting widespread deviance”(Reiner, 2010). Police deviance movies like Serpico portray a story of the good apple in a rotten barrel. These stories focus on a lone honest officer and his battle against organizational corruption. Most of these good apple in a rotten barrel stories developed right after the Knapp Committee investigations. The media also focuses much attention on the deviant police officer, who is a bad apple in a clean barrel. The main character is cop who takes up a brutal vigilante style. The protagonists rule bending is the result of the combined pressure of the general cynicism induced by police work and some special psychological weakness (Reiner, 2010). An example of this is Sidney Kingsley’s play Detective Story.

The media acts as agents of reform. By painting a picture of deviance, corruption or injustice, “media stories contribute to the sense of urgency regarding the need for action to combat such corrupt or unjust practices”(Chan,1995). Organizations whose deviance is being exposed are capable of, and are engaged in, shaping ,and developing public discourse to minimize damage to their image, as well as to project a sense of order and control by reporting on actions being undertaken to fix the problem. There are two cultures of police reporters. There are the inner circle reporters who typically work for popular media outlets and who are trusted by the police to carry stories which are more likely to boost the popular image of the police. The outer circle reporters  typically work for quality media outlets and are prepared to engage in investigative reporting and present stories which expose deviant police practices. Typically, police forces seek to enhance their image by having media units in charge of giving information to the media. When police deviance becomes a major public issue through media coverage, police organizations must seek access to the media to effect damage control. Public scandals also require immediate repair work within police organizations. Since scandals threaten to expose organizational weaknesses and reveal systemic abuses, organisational representatives must restore and bolster up the ”myth system”. They do so by attempting to minimize the issue, by claiming that a problem was caused by a few individuals, and critics may insist that it was not a matter of a few rotten apples, but a rotten barrel. Television images are powerful and convincing. Viewers may have read or heard about the problems of police, but television allows the audience to see the problems as if they were there. The television images are particularly revealing, and where there are clear breaches of rules or regulations, this is extremely embarrassing for the force if portrayed on t.v (Chan,1995).


 Armstrong, M. F. (2012). They wished they were honest: The knapp commission and new york city police corruption. New York: Columbia University Press.

Chan, J. (1995, January 1). Damage control : Media representation and responses to police deviance. Retrieved from

CORRUPTION IN UNIFORM; Excerpts of What the Commission Found: Loyalty Over Integrity. (1994, July 7). Retrieved from

KNAPP COMMISSION (Police). (n.d.). Retrieved from

Mackey, T. (1997, November 1). Meat-eaters and Grass-eaters. Retrieved from

Reiner, R. (2010). The politics of the police (4th ed.). Brighton, Sussex: Wheatsheaf Books

Fact or Fiction? An Analysis of the film Pride and Glory

Posted: February 28, 2015 by theyoungcitybandit in Uncategorized

For the purposes of this blog, I plan to analyze the movie Pride and Glory in order to reveal the facts and fictions portrayed in the crime movies in relation to policing.


“Director Gavin O’Connor collaborates with Narc director/screenwriter Joe Carnahan on this family-focused police drama concerning an honest homicide detective (Edward Norton) assigned to investigate the precinct run by his potentially crooked older brother (Noah Emmerich). As the investigation begins to reveal some troubling facts about the precinct, it gradually becomes apparent that the policeman who is also the older brother’s best friend (Colin Farrell) may be the man orchestrating many of the suspected crimes” (Jason Buchanan, 2008: 1)



Punch’s Classification of Officer Types

Punch’s Classification of Officer Types categorizes police officers in terms of their motivations to participate in misconduct and corruption (Punch, 2009). It is important to note how Punch emphasizes that officers exercise forms of deviance for reasons beyond the sole purpose of material gain. Punch’s typology is relevant in Pride and Glory, the main characters in the movie fall under her classification of officer types.


Ray, played by Edward Norton, is the main character in the movie and is characterized by his integrity and commitment to honest policing.   According to Punch, Ray would fall fit the profile of what she calls the “Professionals”: police officers who are highly committed to upholding the law through legitimate means. “Professionals” also tend to avoid interacting with officers known to be corrupt (Punch, 2009). Throughout the entire movie, Ray struggles between his commitment to policing and his loyalty to his fellow officers and family. In the end, Ray’s commitment to his profession is stronger than his familial obligations. He is too attached to his profession to turn a blind eye, and decides to put an end to the corruption he discovers within his fathers precinct.

Jimmy and Associates

Jimmy, played by Colin Farrell, fits into the Punch’s “Dirty Harrys” profile. Although Jimmy receives material gain by selling the drugs he illegally confiscates, money is not the only thing that motivates his deviant behaviour. Like Jimmy, “Dirty Harrys” or “Noble Causers” are committed to the ends of policing and are willing to use any means to reach them (Punch, 2009). In other words, Dirty Harrys are willing to partake in corruption to close cases and speed up investigations. Dirty Harrys in philosophical terms are consequentialists; meaning that if a goal is morally important enough, any method of achieving it is acceptable (Frank, 2003). Consequentialists insist that whether an action is morally right depends only on its consequences. The right choice, they argue, is always the one that leads to the best overall consequences” (Frank, 2003: 2).

Another way of looking at “Dirty Harrys” is in terms of “noble cause” corruption. Police officers become frustrated that due process and bureaucratic rules prevent them from convicting criminals, and decide to take things into their own hands. Like Jimmy does in Pride and Glory, “some ‘tough’ cops view their role as crime control” (Westmarland, 2006: 161). Jimmy and his fellow officers are able to justify their actions because by locking up and stealing from drug dealers, they believe that they look out for the greater good of their organization and the public in general (Westmarland, 2006: 161).

Jimmy could also be defined in terms of what Punch calls “Ideological Combatants” (2009). Like Jimmy, “ideological combatants are “obsessed with crime-fighting and personally invested in a ‘war on crime’; may create opportunities for deviance” (Larsen, 2015). Furthermore, they are focused on certain group or type of crime (Punch, 2009). In Pride and Glory, Jimmy’s corruption is all in relation to the drug trade, he is not involved in illegal gambling or fraud for example.

Grass eaters, meat eaters and birds

Based on an officer testimony heard before the Knapp Commission in 1972, this typology is used to distinguish officers by their involvement in corruption (Larsen, 2015). The Knapp Commission investigated corruption within the NYPD. Pride and Glory also takes place in NY, and show many similarities to the Knapp Commision Typology.

Grass eaters

“Out of sight out of mind and the fuckin envelopes on time”

The Knapp Commission names cops who passively accept perks and rewards for deviant behaviour as grass eaters; they see the perks they receive as natural aspects of being a police officer . Officers who denied “grass” or paydays were ironically seen as the deviant one’s’ refusing kickbacks raised suspicion among other officers and was frowned upon (Larsen, 2015).

Pride and Glory does a good job at emphasizing the role of the grass-eater. In one scene, two officers Eddie and Kenny are shown in squad car driving. Eddy complains that he needs some money and Kenny reminds him that Jimmy (their leader) has advised them to lay low. Eddie argues that laying low isn’t going to pay his rent and proceeds to try to rob a convenience store. This scene is significant because it supports the notion that many officers rely on the money or “grass” they get from deviant acts, almost as if the money was a part of their salary (Larsen, 2015). It also depicts a transitional phase, where grass eaters are not fed, taking matters into their own hands. The officers go from following orders to get paid to actively searching for payoffs, assuming the role of meat eaters.

Meat Eaters

Meat-eaters, as described in the Knapp Commision, are “proactive carnivores” (Larsen, 2015); they are actively seeking opportunities to abuse their police powers to gain some form of benefit. The Knapp Commission testified that “The meateaters are different. They’re out looking. They’re on a pad with gamblers, they deal in junk, or they’d compromise a homicide investigation for money” (Larsen 2015).

Jimmy, the “leader” of the corrupt cops, fits the perfect description of a meat eater. As his brother-in-law Ray, “the professional” (Punch, 2009) cop, discovers clues and follows various leads, he uncovers Jimmy’s secret. Not only have the men in Franny’s precinct been making money by confiscating drugs and reselling them, but Jimmy has been heading the entire thing. Ray uncovers that Jimmy has been setting up other police officers by tipping off dealers that he was working with before they got raided. Ray also learns Jimmy has participated in tons of planned executions, and that he killed off one dealer he could start working another.


The Knapp Commission Typology uses the term “Birds” to classify senior officers who are aware of corruption taking place, but choose to remain indifferent. The commission defines birds and suggest that “the birds just fly up high, they don’t eat anything either because they are honest or because they don’t have any good opportunities” (Larsen, 2015). At one point in Pride and Glory, Ray discovers Jimmy and his gang of police officers as they are torturing a suspect to find out information. Ray calls Jimmy’s commanding officer and chief Franny to alert him about what Jimmy has done, but Franny does not offer him the advice that he was hoping for. After realizing the extent of Jimmy’s corruption, Franny fears that his position could be jeopardized and initially refuses to help Ray. Although he was not aware of the extent of the problem, turning in Jimmy would mean admitting a degree of involvement. Franny argues that all they have to do is give Jimmy a slap on the wrist and cover their tracks. Franny is a prime example of a bird; which can be distinguished by his choice not to intervene or reprimand the corrupt officers in his precinct.

When Jimmy frames Ray, it would also fall under Roebuck and Barker’s Classification of Activities, which categorizes officers according to the type of corruption they partake in (Roebuck and Barker, 1974). Jimmy engaged in what Maurice Punch would define as “flaking and padding”, and addition to Roebuck and Barker’s work. Flaking and padding refers to planting or adding evidence to a scene to attempt to set someone up (Punch, 2009).

Blue Code of Silence

The blue code of silence is an aspect of police culture that discourages police officers from reporting on one another (Westmarland, 2005). One could even say that police follow as similar code as the streets do; dont snitch on your own. Tensions commonly arise when”individual integrity and group loyalty are in opposition and are simultaneously expected” (Kleinig, 1996: 67). We see this in Pride and Glory throughout a large majority of the movie. In one scene, Ray explains that he believes Jimmy is involved in corruption to his superior Franny. His advice to Ray is to sit on it and see what really happens before stirring up a mess, reminding him that he has to protect his own. Ray obviously doesn’t like it, but his father orders him to keep quiet and Ray reluctantly agrees. The blue code of silence works “[strengthens] internal solidarity, but also inappropriate loyalties or secrecies” (Westmarland, 2006: 161). In the beginning of the movie Ray is still dwelling on a prior incident where he succumbed to internal department pressures in protecting a bad cop, ultimately costing him his marriage. Although Ray eventually breaks the blue code of silence, we see how much he struggles with this throughout the movie. In fact, that is the major source of conflict in the film; the struggle between being integrity and loyalty.

Punch’s Three-level Typology of Origins

In Punch’s Three-level Typology of Origins, she highlights the various origins for police corruption; corruption within the police domain, externally driven corruption and system failure. Most of the corruption that takes place in this movie, falls under “within the police domain” and the “externally driven corruption” categories.

Within the Police Domain: “This encompasses grass-eating, conventional corruption, process corruption (including ‘testilying’), meat-eating, and strategic ‘noble-cause’ corruption” (Larsen, 2015).

Externally Driven: ‘This includes state domination, whereby police engage in deviance at the direction of / in furtherance of the interests of politicians, as well as capture by deviant elites, whereby the police collude with cabals of politicians, organized criminals, and local officials” (Larsen, 2015). In the movie, Jimmy’s actions are also influenced by his partnerships with organized criminals in the drug trade. He gets to a point where he is in so far deep, that a gangster visits him at his home and threatens to harm his family.


The use of deadly force

Pride and Glory, among many other crime movies present a distorted view of police use of deadly force. Often in crime movies,  there is heavy emphasis on police brutality that results in death- especially via gunfire (Crawford, 1999). In crime dramas, viewers are often bombarded with shootout scenes and murder when in reality, the majority of police officers can expect to work their entire career without firing so much as one shot in the line of duty. In fact, though the rates vary, police in all cities kill rarely. Pride and Glory takes place in New York for example, where the average police officer would have to wait an average of 694 years before killing anyone (Crawford, 1999). Below I have highlighted two scenes from Pride and Glory that involve the use of of deadly force.

Example A:

The movie begins with a scene that reveals 4 dead officers at a crime scene. In fact, this is the incident that motivates Ray to go back into police work. At this point he is unaware that the officers were killed because the gang members were tipped off by Jimmy.

Example B:

Two members of Jimmy’s crew try to rob a liquor store, which goes badly. A bystander and one of the two cops are killed, and the other holds the store owner hostage. Francis Jr. goes to the liquor store to talk his officer into freeing the officer. He manages to get the officer out of the store alive as police hold back the people on the streets, who are on the verge of rioting.

The Role of the Detective and Patrol Officer

The film industry is often criticized for overemphasizing and exaggerating the role of the detective. Many movies imply that police investigators are highly effective crime fighters with particularly cunning skills that ensure they solve crimes that ordinary men and women would not be able to do (Crawford, 1999). They face gang shootouts, high speed chases and many other intense life or death situations. On the other hand, they give off the perception that patrol officers are incompetent, lazy and overall incapable of keeping the public safe. Similarly, in Pride and Glory, Ray and Jimmy’s roles as police investigators are highly emphasized. Kenny and Eddy, the patrol officers or “grass eaters” in the movie, are portrayed as unintelligent and incapable of doing their jobs without Jimmy’s guidance. Films fail to consider that most of the cases closed by detectives are solved because the patrol officer has caught the perpetrator at the scene of the crime or because a witness comes forward (Crawford, 1999).

Police Corruption: Blurring between reality and fiction

Police corruption is perhaps the most well known and prevalent problem that comes up in policing. Corruption has also provided to be a main source of conflict in movies in the crime genre. In Pride and Glory for example, the whole movie revolves around the idea of police corruption and the struggle to preserve integrity in the line of duty. This is the one aspect portrayed in film that offers a frightening glimpse of reality that most viewers do not witness in real life. These scenes are often graphic, raw and disturbing, and present the viewer with the opportunity to analyse situations that are taking place in society. However, although the corruption in crime dramas represent or mimic real life events, these forms of corruption are rare. Take Pride and Glory; Jimmy and his gang are able to get away with murder, extortion and drug dealing for a long time before they are stopped. The problem with having real life situations mimicked in these movies is that they exaggerate the extent to which they occur. How can you tell people that police corruption is a rare phenomenon when it is present in almost every single crime drama! Things get even worse when the movies present themselves as “true stories” when in reality, they often magnify the severity of the situation (Crawford, 1999).

& the Moral of the Story is…

Throughout my research on this particular blog and my personal experience watching tons of crime movies, I want to stress that it is important that we take the material we see in these movies with a grain of salt. Although we like to think that we are able to separate fact from fiction, preconceived notions about police work stem from fictional reenactments and representations of crime. Although the images we view in these movies are often exaggerated and fanatical, i’m not saying we should ignore them. Films, especially those that deal with real life issues like police deviance, reflect “their times and the trends in politics, law and society” (Crawford, 1999: 7). Movies that address law and crime change as we develop. As I have discussed in this blog, there are many theories presented accurately in these movies, such as the one’s we see in the Knapp Commision and the typologies theorized by Punch. There is something very significant that goes on in terms of the way the film industry distorts police corruption and deviance. These distortions are not random, the film industry is affected by social influences and events, particularly those that involve the criminal justice system. Movies reveal a lot about how we perceive crime, and how those perspectives advance and shift as society changes.


Buchanan, J. (2008, January 1). ‘There Was Something In This That Was A Little Bit Above A Cop Drama’ Retrieved February 28, 2015, from

Crawford, C. (1999). Law Enforcement and Popular Movies. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 6(2), 46-57. Retrieved February 22, 2015, from

Frank, R. (2006). The Status of Moral Emotions in Consequentialist Moral Reasoning. Retrieved February 27, 2015, from

Kleinig, J. (1996). The ethics of policing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Larsen, M. (2015). Four Typologies of Police Corruption [Class Handout]. Police Accountability, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Richmond, British Columbia.

Pride and Glory. (2008). Retrieved February 28, 2015, from

Punch, M. (2009). Police corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing.

The Knapp Commission report on police corruption. (1973). New York: G. Braziller.

Roebuck, J., & Barker, T. (n.d.). A Typology of Police Corruption. Social Problems, 423-437.

Westmarland, L. (2006). Police Ethics and Integrity: Breaking the Blue Code of Silence. Policing and Society, 145-165. Retrieved February 28, 2015.

Training Day: The Deviant Wolves

Posted: February 28, 2015 by arjanjohal in Uncategorized

We have all seen the classic film “Training Day”, (Fuqua, 2001) staring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. For those who have not seen the film, Training Day is a prime example of a film exposing police deviance. In the film, a rookie officer (Jake) has been given the opportunity to work along side a narcotics officer (Alonzo) who has a different view of justice than any normal uniform officer would. Alonzo takes Jake on patrol to show him what “real” policing is about. As the shift goes by, the rookie starts to realize how corrupt this way of justice is served. Jake soon realizes that in order to catch the criminals, you have to be the criminals. This leads on to a quote in the film where Alonzo explains to Jake that “to protect the sheep you gotta catch the wolf, and it takes a wolf to catch a wolf”. In other words, policing can not be as effective by simply following the rules. In order to receive results, bending the rules is an essential. Furthermore, this is a great example showing how Alonzo falls into the ‘dirty harry’ typology of policing. Alonzo does whatever he needs to, to get answers. This includes threatening people, bribing them, and so on. Also, Alonzo falls into the typology of a ‘cowboy’ officer. These type of police officers have no regards for following procedure, they see hierarchy as a joke, and their only goal is to catch the bad guys, no limits required. Alonzo executes this typology by killing a drug dealer and framing his death. In Alonzo’s view, “the world is a better place without him”.

It is not surprising that Jake is not comfortable with this corrupt form of policing. Jake witnesses bribes, blackmail, threats, and much more horrible things that are not custom to how we would like police to act. This form of policing is quoted to be “ugly but necessary” according to Alonzo. In order to get results, an officer must do what he or she has to do.

In addition, as the day goes by, Jake also realizes that this corrupt system of policing does poorly in working towards recidivism. In one scene of the film, Jake catches two men attempting to rape a girl. Once Jake makes his arrests, only then does he realize that sending the men to jail does nothing in Alonzo’s view. Alonzo explains to Jake that he should “let the garbage men take out the garbage”. In other words, rapists may be a major issues to the public, but they are not worth Alonzo’s corrupt policing work. Instead, they should let the typical uniform police handle these minor issues while they should focus on real crime fighting.

Furthermore, this film has various scenes that wave red flags for police corruption. These acts involve drinking and driving, smoking drugs, unauthorized police searches, theft, and much more. It is because of these deviant acts that give this film the name for a corrupt policing movie. Some, or even majority of these deviant acts can be played out into the reality of police work. For example, shady deals can often be found between ‘meat eater’ police officers, and gang members.

To add on, this film portrays many typologies of police corruption. For example, Alonzo is seen as a opportunistic thief. In other words, he would take things such as money from the scene of a crime and keep it for himself. Secondly, Alonzo associated with direct criminal activities such as murder. Another typology for police corruption associated with the film is internal pay off. This is when Alonzo paid his supervisors for various benefits.

Overall, this film puts into perspective how some of our very own police officers act. Although the reality of policing may not be as harsh as the film portrays it to be, police corruption is still present. What this film says about our police is that, police do not feel the need to follow rules at time. Having a badge gives them a sense of power that can not be taken away, after all Alonzo does say “we are the police, we can do what we want”. Having seen the film, it gets the viewers to be more aware of police wrong doing from minor things such as running through red lights when there is no emergency, to blackmailing suspects.

In addition, this film sends a message to the viewers that although the police are here to serve and protect us, corrupt police officers only care for themselves. The only goal for these officers is self satisfaction. In other words, these officers do not care to make the community a better place to live in,  but instead to benefit from taking down the bad guys.

The relationship between fiction and reality in this film are very much alike. Even though this is a typical Hollywood film full of car crashes, gun shooting, and fighting, the image it creates about police deviance is very much real.

The above clip from Training day shows how one officer (Jake) is not happy with this new style of policing that is being exposed to him. On the other hand, Alonzo tries to explain to him that ‘rough justice’ is needed. (Content involves mature language).

To add onto the topic of police deviance, Elizabeth Comack in her book (Racialized policing: Aboriginal people’s encounters with the police, 2012) identifies police corruption through racialization. Comack explains how officers use race as a “primary variable in their decisions to stop and search, arrest, and charge” (Comack, 2012 pg 23). To some this may not be a big issue, but Comack sees it as a threat to our democratic society as we see it being so free when in reality it is not.

In conclusion, Training Day is a film that opens our eyes to police deviance. The officers we trust with our lives may not be the people we see them as. Whether we agree or disagree with how police go about their duties, these corrupt acts will continue to occur. After all, it takes a wolf to catch a wolf.


Comack, E. (2012) Racialized policing: Aboriginal people’s encounters with the police. Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing Co Ltd.

Donsknotts (2012) I walk a higher path sonYouTube. YouTube. Available at: 28 February 2015).

Fuqua, A. (2001) training day