Are Criminal Justice TV Shows Full of Fluff?

March 16th, 2011 by admin

A One-Sided Depiction of Criminal Justice Careers

criminal-justice-tv-shows ts_200247907-001Popular crime dramas are fun and entertaining to watch, but they can present a slanted, one-sided view of what criminal justice and law enforcement officials actually do on a day-to-day basis. Criminal justice and law enforcement careers can be very exciting, and there is much to be said about a career that offers variety in the day-to-day routine. Although there are exciting days, there are also days that are less so. There is much paperwork and research that goes into creating a successful law enforcement or criminal justice career.

While shows like CSI and Law & Order show the exhilarating, fast-paced life of someone who is in the criminal justice and law enforcement field, they do not show the other side of the career. A person in these fields will spend time in the pursuit of these exciting opportunities, but he or she will also spend time at a desk, researching, compiling information, interviewing people, and completing other less exciting tasks. Much of these jobs also require less glamorous work to be done before being able to rise in the ranks and move toward what may be seen as the more exciting jobs in the field. A person may need to start as a traffic policeman or a transportation officer before they move on to another job.

Shows like The Shield show a police officer that is constantly involved in gunfights, the car- and foot-chasing of suspects, drug busts, and violence. Most police officers will—happily—go through their entire career without shooting their own gun. And shows like CSI and Law & Order depict police officers that spend their time investigating high-profile crimes that take them around the city, chasing suspects and getting into danger themselves. While this can happen, much of an investigation is spent in the police precinct, behind a computer or on the phone.

These shows do show an important aspect of criminal justice and law enforcement, but they do not show a subjective, full view of the entire job. People who want to study criminal justice and law enforcement to go into that career field should be prepared for both sides of the job. They should be passionate about the work they do, which is reflected in these popular crime dramas, but they should also be prepared for some less thrilling work, too, at times.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and the author alone, and do not reflect in any way the opinion of the web site or any of its affiliations or partnerships.  Lindsey is a contributor for in the Legal Entertainment category.

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