Police Women of Broward County takes reality cop TV to new depths

Radley Balko's crime column for Reason Online this week "criticizes the thinly-veiled S&M fantasy/cop reality show, The Police Women of Broward County."

200908311019The most obvious criticism of these shows is their exploitation and general tackiness. Police work is reduced to clownish pranks, adrenalin-inducing raids, and telegenic lady cops edited to invoke S&M fantasies for the shlubs watching at home. No one expects much dignity from cable networks, but you'd think, for example, that the Broward County Sheriff's Department might object to the sexualization of its female officers, or to a national ad campaign insinuating that they're sporting itchy Taser fingers.

As for the SWAT programs, America has unfortunately grown comfortable with, or at least accustomed to, the idea of using SWAT teams to kick down doors and conduct volatile, confrontational raids for consensual, nonviolent crimes. We've seen a massive increase in these raids, from about 3,000 per year in the early 1980s to some 50,000 per year by the early 2000s. The popularity of SWAT shows didn't cause the problem, but their popularity is sympomatic of it, and they can only further ingrain the troubling notion that there's nothing wrong with sending a unit of cops dressed like soldiers into private homes to arrest nonviolent drug offenders. And of course, we're never going to see the wrong-door raids, or police mistakes that result in fatalities.

Don't Tase Me, Sis: Police Women of Broward County takes reality cop TV to new depths.