Cops TV Series: Camera Crews and Police Officers

Cops TV Series
An overview of the Cops television show.

An Overview of the Cops TV Series

The Cops TV series follows police officers, constables, and sheriff’s deputies during patrols and other police activities. It was one of the longest-running television programs in the United States. Also, the series was the second longest-running show on Fox, along with America’s Most Wanted, the first of the longest unchanged nightly schedule (Fox’s Saturday Night) on American television.

Who Created the Series?

John Langley and Malcolm Barbour created the television show. It premiered on Saturday, March 11, 1989, and aired 750 episodes as of March 21, 2009. It won the American Television Award in 1993 and earned four Emmy nominations. On September 30, 2007, Cops began its 20th season with a highlight episode, “20 Years Caught on Tape”.

Where is the show Broadcast?

COPS is broadcast by the Fox television network (with repeats from earlier seasons syndicated to other networks) and follows the activities of police officers by embedding camera crews with police units. The Cops TV show’s formula follows the cinéma vérité convention, with no narration or scripted dialog, depending entirely on the commentary of the officers and on the actions of the people with whom they come into contact.

Show Format

The show follows officers in 140 different cities in the United States and has filmed in Hong Kong, London, and the former Soviet Union. Each episode of Cops is approximately 22 minutes long and typically consists of three segments, each being one or two self-contained police incidents.

The show portrays criminals acting foolishly by avoiding arrest, leading police officers on high-speed chases, and other criminal acts. However, the show is sometimes criticized for making car crashes and injuries a source of humor and entertainment. On the one hand, the show is praised for capturing what it is like on the streets for police officers. On the other hand, many feel the show depicts and even reinforces racial bias.

A study by Old Dominion University found that the show did reinforce racial bias. On the show, African-American men were often shown to be the perpetrators of violent crimes. In addition, Hispanic men were often depicted as violent criminals. The study also noted that the police officers were most often white, and only a small percentage of the offenders on the show were white. None of these factors are consistent with actual statistical crime data in the United States.

List of Cops TV Series Episodes

The Cops TV series ran for an impressive 39 seasons with 1,039 episodes. Each episode is 30 minutes long. Amazon Video currently has 13 seasons available to watch on Amazon Video.

Cops Television Series Season Episodes on DVD

The series is also available on DVD. In addition to the season episodes, the following special editions are available: Cops: 20th Anniversary Edition on DVD, Cops 3-Pack on DVD, Bad Girls / Caught in the Act / Shots Fired (Includes additional footage that is considered “too hot for TV”). Cops: Bad Girls focuses on females who break the law and get arrested.

COPS: Wildest Chases
Cops, a groundbreaking reality series, shifted to Spike, offering unparalleled access into the lives of police officers, constables, and deputies nationwide. It’s a TV milestone with a long broadcast history.

Production Company

Given that the Cops TV series ran for so many reasons, many production companies and executive producers were involved with its production. Production companies in order of production rights include Barbour/Langley Productions, Fox Television Stations, 20th Century Fox Television, 20th Television, Langley Productions, Spike Original Productions, and currently the Paramount Network Original Productions. The distributors include 20th Century Fox Television, 20th Television, and CBS Television Distribution.

Critical Response, Ratings, and Awards

Ratings for the show were generally good, but opinions about it vary widely.

  • The show received four Primetime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Informational Series but did not win any awards
  • In 1993, it won the American Television Award for the Best Edited Reality TV Series
  • In 2008, it won the American Cinema Editors Award for Best Edited Reality TV Series
  • IMDB gives the show a rating of 7.1 out of 10 stars
  • gives the show a rating of 8.2 out of 10 stars
  • 88% of Google Users indicated they like the show

Theme Song

The show is well known for its theme song, “Bad Boys,” performed by the reggae group Inner Circle.

Questions and Comments

Please let us know if you have questions about the Cops TV series. Also, check out other Police Crime Dramas on DVD.

Michael Kissiah is the owner of Brandy Lane Publishing, LLC, which owns and operates a small portfolio of websites, including Michael created more than 20 years ago after working as a private investigator in the state of Florida. Since that time, he has become an expert at how to find information online and has written over 1000 articles on topics related to the investigation industry. In addition, he is the author of the "Private Investigator Licensing Handbook", available at
cops-tv-series An Overview of the Cops TV Series The Cops TV series follows police officers, constables, and sheriff's deputies during patrols and other police activities. It was one of the longest-running television programs in the United States. Also, the series was the second longest-running show on...


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