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Follows real-life law enforcement officers from various regions and departments of the US armed with nothing but with cameras to capture their actions.
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Nominated for 4 Primetime Emmys. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Series cast summary:
Andrew Fincher Andrew Fincher ...  Himself 10 episodes, 2006-2016
Heather Ashley Chase ...  Herself - Training Officer / ... 6 episodes, 1999-2000


Follows real-life law enforcement officers from various regions and departments of the US armed with nothing but with cameras to capture their actions. Written by Bryan Hoch <bhoch@icu.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Most Dramatic Show on Television Doesn't Have a Single Actor


TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | Spanish | German | Russian

Release Date:

11 March 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cops Reloaded See more »

Filming Locations:

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The city of Honolulu and Chicago refused filming with their police officers despite multiple events from the producers. See more »


Announcer: COPS is about real people and real crime. It was filmed entirely on location with the men and women who work in law enforcement.
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Referenced in Logorama (2009) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

the longest-running (practically propaganda) reality-TV program, with some mixed feelings
30 April 2006 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

Cops has been on TV almost all my life. In fact, it's on right now, on TV in the background, as a police officer busts a guy driving with drugs in his car. For years watching dozens of the shows in syndication, episodes much like these, I was struck by how every episode, in essence, is the same. An officer may stop someone on the road, come up to their house, chase after them, and they always get their man or woman. Race isn't even as much an issue as it is the essential point of the show, almost to the point of redundancy- the cops, according to this show, don't lose. But the irony is, someone like myself who becomes occasionally disgusted by the antagonistic (to a point) and superiority-driven nature that underlies those who serve and protect, is constantly re-watchable. But a fact that I didn't know for quite a while was put to me about the show, an important point- the people who appear on the show getting arrested *agree* to allow their faces and likenesses put on TV. Somehow the relish is almost at times interchangeable.

If anything, Cops over a decade and a half is almost like a kind of quasi-anthropology turned to ratings. It's not too surprising that if you happen to walk into a police station at a given moment they may be playing this their TV's. And despite the disclaimer at the start of the show, "those arrested are innocent until proved guilty in a court of law", if one were to incorporate the media-is-the-message idea, these people are practically all guilty in their own way by being subjected to not only the rule of the law (90% of the time in just cause) and by their own flaws under the gun (no pun intended). The fact is, Cops was and remains one of the pioneers of reality television, capturing a kind of base level of how life really is when under the lens of a professional hand-held cameraman. There is no contest or money at stake for the participants, it's capturing the suspects/arrestees at their most ashamed (or dazed, crazed, what have you) moments, and the law as the unfettered, collected, and "professional" beings on the planet.

The premise of the show, and a good deal of the time its execution, is brilliant in its own way, as a real documentary-style show that is entertaining in its own willful manipulation of the reality. More often than not, even as I feel the some episodes have me cringing in my seat, it is a genuinely interesting piece of the crude side of humanity we either can't look away from or would rather not see at all. And the show becomes very subjective- how you may or may not think the law really helps you or others will effect how you see its worth in the TV landscape.

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