Policemen, both in Britain and the United States, hardly recognize any
likeness between their lives and what they see on TV.
The first difference is that a policeman's real life centers round the law.
Most of his training is in criminal law. He has to know exactly what actions are
crimes and what evidence can be used to prove them in court. He has to know
nearly as much as a professional lawyer, and what is more, he has to apply it on
his feet, running down as alley after someone he wants to talk to.
He will spend most of his working life typing millions of words on thousands
of forms about hundreds of sad, unimportant people who are guilty or not of
stupid, petty crimes.
Most television crime drama is about the criminal. In real life, finding
criminals is seldom much of a problem. Except in very serious cases like murders
and terrorist attack where failure to produce results reflects on the standing
of the police—little effort is spent on searching. The police have a
well-designed machinery which eventually shows up most wanted men.
Having made an arrest, a detective really starts to work. He has to prove his
case in court and to do that he often has to gather a lot of different evidence.
Much of this has to be given by people who don't want to get involved in a court
case. So, as well as being overworked, a detective has to be out at all hours of
the day and night interviewing his witnesses and persuading them to help
A third big difference is the unpleasant moral twilight in which the real one
lives. Detectives are subject to two opposing pressures: firstly, as members of
a police force they always have to behave with absolute legality: secondly, as
expensive public servants they have to get results. They can hardly ever do
If the detective has to deceive the world, the world often deceives him.
Hardly anyone he meets tells him the truth. And this separation the detective
feels between himself and the rest of the world is deepened by the
simple-mindedness as he sees it, of citizens, social workers, doctors,
lawmakers, and judges, who instead of stamping out crime, punish the criminals
less severely in the hope that this will make them reform. The result,
detectives feel, is that ninetenths of their work is recatching people who have
stayed behind bars. This makes them rather cynical.
1. It is essential for a policeman to be trained in criminal law because
2. The everyday life of a policeman or detective is
3. When murders and terrorist attack occur the police
4. The real detective lives in “an unpleasant moral twilight" because
5. Detectives are rather cynical because