Study Questions

1. Programs that focus on the police (Cops, Law and Order, CSI, etc.) are some of the longest running and must viewed programs on network television. What accounts for the enduring popularity of such programming, particularly at a time when police seem to be under increased and considerable scrutiny?

2. Lee and McGovern (2014, p. 213) claim that Facebook and Crimestoppers are simply the new Neighborhood Watch: “traditional policing reframed . . . through new technologies.” Do you agree with this assessment? What can social media enable the police to do which they could not by traditional means?

3. Likewise, some commentators have questioned the ability of visual evidence to bring about substantial reform in the conduct and character of police. Do you agree with this assessment? How has visual evidence made an impact on policing? How has it not?

4. Conduct your own analysis of an episode of Cops. Compare and contrast the types of crimes contained therein with crime and victimization statistics provided by the Bureau of Justice Statistics ( How might such a program create a distorted view of police work and of crime and victimization more generally?