Blue Bloods: Harmful to Law Enforcement

 

I’m a Tom Selleck fan and have been since Magnum PI.  Though I haven’t watched everything he’s done, I’ve generally been entertained when I’ve watched him.  It was later that I learned that his political views run right of center, which is a plus for me.

The television show Blue Bloods has a right-of-center bent. It’s not a show about politics per se, but about law enforcement, specifically the NYPD.  Selleck plays the police commissioner, and his family primarily works for or is retired from law enforcement.  It’s not a realistic show with regard to how the NYPD works, there are some major gaps there, but the inaccuracies go in support of the ensemble of actors they have in the show.  I suspect that the set of Blue Bloods is a good place to work, and the cast is a tight one.  It’s probably why it’s lasted 12 seasons.

Still, if you want a more accurate portrayal of policing, NYPD Blue is probably better fare, though that series is hardly perfect.  Still, they tried harder.

One thing refreshing about Blue Bloods is its traditional family values, and one of the highlights of each episode is their family dinners, and many of those dinners include a prayer, where the words “Jesus Christ” are uttered.  It’s probably the only current mainstream television show where a positive portrayal of mainstream religion is included.

Here’s my problem.  It’s the character, Detective Danny Reagan.  He’s portrayed as a loving husband and father, and loyal son.  And he’s violent on the job.  He will break every rule he can to get the criminal.  He’ll physically intimidate, and in not so rare cases assault a suspect to get a confession.  In one scene, he tells a suspect he’s attempting to intimidate that if he needs a lawyer, he must be guilty.  The response resonated with me.  “With cops like you, you’d be a fool not to have a lawyer.”

And the shootings.  It seems like he’s always pulling his gun out, and the number of people he kills in a season is just out of hand.  There are even episodes where it’s mentioned that only two percent of officers in the NYPD are involved in shootings.  In real police work, shootings are rare.  In real life, a Danny Reagan would have either been kicked out of the department, or quietly placed on desk duty for the rest of his career.  Someone who has even three shootings in a year would be taken off the street, whether by job termination or reassignment.

And really, in real life, someone who kills that many people, especially someone who is as emotional as Danny Reagan would be a wreck.  Most soldiers who have killed a lot of people have done so as young adults, and they’ve paid a price for it.  Most are able to overcome the guilt, and live a normal life.  But they aren’t continuing to kill well into middle age.  In real life, the only way to be unaffected by that many killings is to be a psychopath (a person without emotion).  Conceivably, psychopaths can live a moral life.  But they can’t be a loving father and husband.  At best they could fake it, but can you really fake something like that over most of a lifetime?  I think not.

Blue Bloods is not a major influence on the culture. That it’s allowed to continue on the CBS network is an exception that proves the rule, and it targets a certain kind of audience that does not include the Woke.  Frankly, though, I’m surprised it’s lasted as long as it did.

But the problem I have is it gives the impression, that the defund the police crowd also encourage, that the police do commonly break the rules, and that they kill much more than they do.  And that’s why it’s more harmful than not to the image of law enforcement especially in these days.

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  1. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Selleck.

    I had a very limited tolerance for NYPD Blue, because even if they were supposedly trying to not make something about Sipowicz, it was still about Sipowicz.  If someone died, it was about how that affected Sipowicz…

    At least that’s how it seemed to me.

    The only good part was the semi-nudity especially of Charlotte Ross.

     

    If you’ve seen Chicago P.D., what do you think of that?

    • #1
  2. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    kedavis (View Comment):
    If you’ve seen Chicago P.D., what do you think of that?

    I haven’t seen it.  Most of my police procedural watches these days tend towards the British with some Scandinavian countries mixed in, usually murder mysteries.  It’s great that the streaming services provide more European fare.

    But I’ll make it point to take a look.

    • #2
  3. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    If you’ve seen Chicago P.D., what do you think of that?

    I haven’t seen it. Most of my police procedural watches these days tend towards the British with some Scandinavian countries mixed in, usually murder mysteries. It’s great that the streaming services provide more European fare.

    But I’ll make it point to take a look.

    I’ve been watching it on… what is it…  Peacock, for free.  They have other shows that require a paid membership, but Chicago P.D. is free.  Or at least was, very recently.

    The one drawback that annoys me is when they had “crossover” episodes with Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and/or the Chicago Justice show that was just one season.  The “linking” episodes are not included or even mentioned, and the other shows aren’t – or at least weren’t – free.

    Oh, and they had a couple with Law & Order SVU.  Same problem.

    • #3
  4. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Ben Stein once got a nasty flue so he had to stay in and watch a Law and Order marathon. Apparently if you have a Latino gangster and a black ganster and a rich white businessman accused of a crime, the guilty guy is always the white business guy. 

    • #4
  5. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Ben Stein once got a nasty flue so he had to stay in and watch a Law and Order marathon. Apparently if you have a Latino gangster and a black ganster and a rich white businessman accused of a crime, the guilty guy is always the white business guy.

    Reminds me of @jameslileks and Mitch Berg on Northern Alliance Radio Network (NARN) reminiscing over how in the early seasons of 24, the odd Muslims etc were actually the terrorists.

    • #5
  6. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    Al Sparks (View Comment):
    But I’ll make it point to take a look.

    I just watched S1E1, and then S3E1 of Chicago PD to get a feel.  The first episode reminded me of The Shield.  But I figured that these shows change from the first season, and there seems to be less low level corruption displayed by the time of the 3rd season.

    I only started watching Blue Bloods a few months ago, and got through to season 9 fairly quickly before I finally stopped.  I don’t watch a lot of terrestrial television anymore, so that’s why I really wasn’t aware of that franchise.  I noticed that the series is produced by Dick Wolf, and he started the Law and Order franchise that I loved until it started getting politically correct.

    Chicago PD is less character driven than Blue Bloods and with Chicago, the intelligence unit is up against high level bad guys who go after family members of the investigation unit.

    With Blue Bloods, Danny Reagan is going after mostly street punks, which in a sense makes it more down to earth.

    The first three seasons of Law and Order is a great police procedural, comparable to Dragnet (the original 1950’s run).  But Dick Wolf who produces both franchises, has made the usual compromises for popularity after a great start.

    The redeeming feature of Blue Bloods is that the characters are mostly treated as ordinary everymen (and everywomen) with a little bit of “superhero”, especially with Danny Reagan.  Everybody’s a superhero (or supervillain) in Chicago PD.

    Both shows end up encouraging a corrupt stereotype of the police, only with Blue Bloods the characters are more relatable as ordinary middle class schlubs who live in ordinary houses or apartments in the suburbs.

    • #6
  7. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    Al Sparks (View Comment):
    But I’ll make it point to take a look.

    I just watched S1E1, and then S3E1 of Chicago PD to get a feel. The first episode reminded me of The Shield. But I figured that these shows change from the first season, and there seems to be less low level corruption displayed by the time of the 3rd season.

    I only started watching Blue Bloods a few months ago, and got through to season 9 fairly quickly before I finally stopped. I don’t watch a lot of terrestrial television anymore, so that’s why I really wasn’t aware of that franchise. I noticed that the series is produced by Dick Wolf, and he started the Law and Order franchise that I loved until it started getting politically correct.

    Chicago PD is less character driven than Blue Bloods and with Chicago, the intelligence unit is up against high level bad guys who go after family members of the investigation unit.

    With Blue Bloods, Danny Reagan is going after mostly street punks, which in a sense makes it more down to earth.

    The first three seasons of Law and Order is a great police procedural, comparable to Dragnet (the original 1950’s run). But Dick Wolf who produces both franchises, has made the usual compromises for popularity after a great start.

    The redeeming feature of Blue Bloods is that the characters are mostly treated as ordinary everymen (and everywomen) with a little bit of “superhero”, especially with Danny Reagan. Everybody’s a superhero (or supervillain) in Chicago PD.

    Both shows end up encouraging a corrupt stereotype of the police, only with Blue Bloods the characters are more relatable as ordinary middle class schlubs who live in ordinary houses or apartments in the suburbs.

    You should have at least seen S1 E2, since that wraps up the previous episode.

    • #7
  8. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Al Sparks:

    One thing refreshing about the Blue Bloods is it’s traditional family values, and one of the highlights of each episode is their family dinners, and many of those dinners include a prayer, where the words “Jesus Christ” are uttered. It’s probably the only current mainstream television show where a positive portrayal of mainstream religion is included.

    Dinner time is my least favorite because of the mother-daughter lib harpies and Pops ‘we-should-bust-some-heads’ Reagan. 

    Here’s my problem. It’s the character, Detective Danny Reagan. He’s portrayed as a loving husband and father, and loyal son. And he’s violent on the job. He will break every rule he can to get the criminal. He’ll physically intimidate, and in not so rare cases assault a suspect to get a confession. In one scene, he tells a suspect he’s attempting to intimidate that if he needs a lawyer, he must be guilty. The response resonated with me. “With cops like you, you’d be a fool not to have a lawyer.”

    Yeah, he’s too much. Still, you can’t have a cop show without dealing with police corruption. I mean think about all those bent cops in Adam 12. 

    OK, maybe not. Still, you gots to have drama. 

    For my part, I suspect some police departments are pretty corrupt, more have corrupt cells within, but that most have very low corruption on the order of ticket-fixing or looking the other way when the mayor screws up. 

     

    • #8
  9. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    TBA (View Comment):

    Al Sparks:

    One thing refreshing about the Blue Bloods is it’s traditional family values, and one of the highlights of each episode is their family dinners, and many of those dinners include a prayer, where the words “Jesus Christ” are uttered. It’s probably the only current mainstream television show where a positive portrayal of mainstream religion is included.

    Dinner time is my least favorite because of the mother-daughter lib harpies and Pops ‘we-should-bust-some-heads’ Reagan.

    Here’s my problem. It’s the character, Detective Danny Reagan. He’s portrayed as a loving husband and father, and loyal son. And he’s violent on the job. He will break every rule he can to get the criminal. He’ll physically intimidate, and in not so rare cases assault a suspect to get a confession. In one scene, he tells a suspect he’s attempting to intimidate that if he needs a lawyer, he must be guilty. The response resonated with me. “With cops like you, you’d be a fool not to have a lawyer.”

    Yeah, he’s too much. Still, you can’t have a cop show without dealing with police corruption. I mean think about all those bent cops in Adam 12.

    OK, maybe not. Still, you gots to have drama.

    For my part, I suspect some police departments are pretty corrupt, more have corrupt cells within, but that most have very low corruption on the order of ticket-fixing or looking the other way when the mayor screws up.

     

    That and writing lots of traffic citations etc, and milking law-abiding citizens for as much as possible, since they don’t usually fight or shoot back like the real bad guys do.

    • #9
  10. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    We used to watch NCIS and Gibbs routinely threatens to put people in Guantanamo for non terrorist offenses. 

    • #10
  11. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    A police shooting resulting in the death of someone is a homicide. Not all homicides are murder regardless of whether an officer or a private citizen pulled the trigger. A police officer will be placed on paid administrative leave. At some point the officer will be interviewed by homicide detectives. The officer involved will not write the report. Detectives will write the report based upon transcribed taped interviews with the officer. The DA’s office may begin their own investigation.

    Even though a police shooting was found to be justified some officers will resign or retire because they do not want to ever be in a position to have to shoot someone in another incident. Officers that wish to remain on duty after the investigation will have to undergo a psych evaluation to return to duty.

    Counseling will not only be available for the officer it will also be available to the officer’s family.

    The detectives I knew were soft spoken. They asked questions and would wait for the answer. In many cases they knew they had to conduct multiple interviews with a subject.

    • #11
  12. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    The detectives I knew were soft spoken. They asked questions and would wait for the answer. In many cases they knew they had to conduct multiple interviews with a subject.

    That sucks, because I’m really good at kicking over chairs and yelling. 

    • #12
  13. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    TBA (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    The detectives I knew were soft spoken. They asked questions and would wait for the answer. In many cases they knew they had to conduct multiple interviews with a subject.

    That sucks, because I’m really good at kicking over chairs and yelling.

    Cop shows are fantasies. That’s why the interviews/interrogations , the shoot-outs and all the rest are so ridiculously unrealistic: The audience wishes to experience what they imagine to be morally-justified vicarious violence:  beat up the rapist,  make the murderer weep with fear.

    Which wouldn’t matter so much, except that I do think the present moment in our culture is a bit…fantasy-prone, and real people are being injured and killed (not to mention terrorized, economically damaged, and generally made more miserable) because there are too many Americans who can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality. 

    See Smollett, Jussie, for instance. 

    I stopped watching an otherwise entertaining show (Sherlock Holmes based) called “Elementary” when one of the hero-cops who works with the eponuymous main character arrests a cop killer and deliberately walks him through a menacing crowd of police officers, clearly signaling the inevitability of their violent revenge. 

    In real life, doing something so stupid would immediately and irreparably damage the prosecution of this guy, and for what? 

    Real life detectives have to think about the rules of evidence, about how the defense attorneys will spin even a disapproving glance into a confession-nullifying threat. And, as Doug says, real detectives tend to speak softly, signal understanding, and will even say things like “well, I can see why you were so mad at your wife…I mean, she bought you the wrong beer, who wouldn’t be pissed?” 

      After the massacre at a church in South Carolina, an old friend of mine—graduate of Harvard law, so you’d think she’d know better—told me that the killer was given a full meal before his interrogation, because the racist cops actually approved of his act. 

    I have to think the behavior of TV cops plays into this.

     

     

    • #13
  14. jmelvin Member
    jmelvin
    @jmelvin

    Nice post @alsparks.  I got into watching Blue Bloods occasionally when I’d catch it on while visiting my parents from time to time.  I’m not sure I’ve ever dug it up on a streaming service, but if I want to put my feet up and watch something I’ll happily watch an episode if one of the local channels have it on.  The other night was just such a night as I was about to konk out for the evening, and the episode was one that had Danny pulling some particularly outrageous and corrupt series of stunts and similar thoughts to yours occurred to me that while these kinds of stunts can be entertaining it probably isn’t a good thing to promote.  That said, the younger brother does seem to be a bit more honor bound to stay within “the rules” and his character is pretty entertaining too.  I suppose the writers do a decent job of pitching a wide variation of types you might find, even if the whole things isn’t realistic.

    • #14
  15. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    One of the better fictional detective scenes is portrayed in the Bosch series.

    • #15
  16. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    I think you’re going to get this with most scripted police shows.

    I still enjoy watching ‘COPS’, though I can sympathize with arrestees that are stopped on some pretty flimsy violations – makes me temper my support of “Broken Windows” policing theory. I recall this black guy getting stopped on a bike at dusk because he didn’t have a light on his bike, though they eventually did find a small amount of drugs, I could see this add to the bad feelings towards law enforcement. 

    A scripted detective show that shows those mundane aspects of actually speaking to witnessess, showing how and why residents will & won’t speak to police. Shining the light that police often do find and arrest these criminals, only to be thwarted by DA’s and Judges. That may do more for perceptions than those volcanic displays of righteous anger. Maybe instead of seeing a COP ‘breakthe rules’ to get this punk, we see one break the rules to not enforce a Mask Mandate, or something equally foolish.

    I still prefer “Peace Officer”. Yes, its a symantic argument but I still think a valuable distinction of what we expect from the police function. 

    • #16
  17. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    One of the better fictional detective scenes is portrayed in the Bosch series.

    I do like Bosch! 

    • #17
  18. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Okay, I resisted as long as I could, but this has to go in here:

     

    • #18
  19. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    GrannyDude (View Comment):
    Cop shows are fantasies. That’s why the interviews/interrogations , the shoot-outs and all the rest are so ridiculously unrealistic: The audience wishes to experience what they imagine to be morally-justified vicarious violence:  beat up the rapist,  make the murderer weep with fear.

    This is why “Dirty Harry” Callahan is so popular, starting from the first gunfight in the first movie:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqgGihIfq5U

    • #19
  20. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    When I was on the streets, I tried to deescalate a situation. One night I saw a female sitting on the half wall of a parking structure. She was on the 7th floor and her legs were on the street side. I drove to the 7th floor and her boyfriend was holding on to her waist.

    I told him to get her off wall. They both appeared to be intoxicated. He took her off the wall and then said he was going to kick my ass. He started to walk towards me, and I said, why would you think I’m going to take a beating in a parking garage when I’m carrying a gun? He stopped walking towards me and said I don’t have a gun.

    My next question was do you have car in the garage and the reply was no. I wanted to offer him a chance to make a better decision, I told him, you and your friend can leave the garage like we never met. They left the garage.

    No sarcasm from me and no need to embarrass him in front of his girlfriend. I didn’t want to be the officer that saw her fall to the pavement.

    Does that work all the time? It doesn’t but having been involved in fights and wrestling matches I can assure you it’s well worth the effort to avoid a fight when you can.

    • #20
  21. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    One of the better fictional detective scenes is portrayed in the Bosch series.

    When my wife and I were watching Bosch legacy I said “where is J Edgar?” and then the next episode he showed up in a sort of a cameo.  And we love Crate and Barrel.

    • #21
  22. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    I drove to the 7th floor

    Wow your cars must have been equipped with that hover technology stuff like the Delorean in the Back To The Future movies!

    But I suppose you meant driving up the ramps etc.

    • #22
  23. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    One of the better fictional detective scenes is portrayed in the Bosch series.

    Love Bosch.

    • #23
  24. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    I drove to the 7th floor

    Wow your cars must have been equipped with that hover technology stuff like the Delorean in the Back To The Future movies!

    A parking garage.

    • #24
  25. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    I drove to the 7th floor

    Wow your cars must have been equipped with that hover technology stuff like the Delorean in the Back To The Future movies!

    A parking garage.

    Yes, I had just already edited that.

    • #25
  26. kidCoder Member
    kidCoder
    @kidCoder

    I enjoyed The Rookie (Season 1). I’ve not yet watched the subsequent seasons, but the portrayal of police rules was quite nice. Also Nathan Fillion.

    • #26
  27. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    And there was that series from 1972 to 76, but without Nathan Fillion.

     

    https://epguides.com/rookies/

    • #27
  28. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    One of the better fictional detective scenes is portrayed in the Bosch series.

    Love Bosch.

    did love Bosch, but the script for Bosch: Legacy is weaker and probably doubles the profanity. I don’t mind profanity – actually, I kind of like it. But when a show, and specifically a character within a show – starts communicating differently it is jarring. 

    • #28
  29. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    TBA (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    One of the better fictional detective scenes is portrayed in the Bosch series.

    Love Bosch.

    I did love Bosch, but the script for Bosch: Legacy is weaker and probably doubles the profanity. I don’t mind profanity – actually, I kind of like it. But when a show, and specifically a character within a show – starts communicating differently it is jarring.

    Have yet to see the new series. 

    • #29
  30. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    One of the better fictional detective scenes is portrayed in the Bosch series.

    Love Bosch.

    I did love Bosch, but the script for Bosch: Legacy is weaker and probably doubles the profanity. I don’t mind profanity – actually, I kind of like it. But when a show, and specifically a character within a show – starts communicating differently it is jarring.

    Have yet to see the new series.

    Warning: cliffhanger. 

    • #30
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