It is fair to say that crime shows have developed a cult following. For decades, television has been creating shows based on the New York Police Department. Fan favorite shows like Law & Order: SVU, Castle, and CSI: NY all showcase the NYPD. While the plot lines are always thrilling, it makes one wonder if what happens on TV is what happens in real life. In reality, there are many misconceptions that TV has taught us when it comes to police. Below you can find the differences between TV and reality of the NYPD.
One of the biggest differences between TV and reality is that solving crimes or catching culprits can be accomplished in a short period of time. Most crimes scenes are not investigated and resolved with a 40 to 60 minutes time period. Investigations in real life can take weeks, months, or even years to solve. There are only rare instances where a crime is resolved in a matter of days.
Number of Homicides
The number of homicides that occur in New York City are underrepresented in television. Looking at the 2009-2010 television season, between Law and Order SVU, CSI: NY, Law and Order, Castle, Law and Order Criminal Intent, only 188 homicides were committed. Looking at the numbers of homicides that actually happen in New York in 2209, almost 450 homicides were committed. Comparing these numbers against one another, it is easy to see a stark difference.
Fully Equipped Staff
On Law and Order, the SVU unit is fully staffed and trained. The same is not true for the real NYPD’s Special Victims Division (SVD). In reality, the New York City council is looking to reform the current SVD. A recent report shows the SVD is understaffed and under-resourced. In March the SVD unit had only 67 detectives responsible for overseeing more than 5,000 cases.
Needless to say, do not always trust what you see on television. While watching crime shows can be entertaining, remember that the crime that the NYPD faces complex crimes that can not be solved in an hour. The time and energy that the officers put into the NYPD cannot be easily replicated by television.