The role of police officers in society is a hot discussion topic: specifically, what is considered appropriate cop behavior and what crosses the line into criminality or fuzzier gray areas. One aspect that makes this discussion even more complicated is that the popular cop image in movies and TV is usually not a depiction of what being a police officer is really like. The portrayal of police officers in entertainment tends to help shape public opinion, so when Hollywood gets it wrong, scores of movie- and TV-viewers are getting it wrong, too.
It's easy to forget that movies and shows featuring cops are, first and foremost, entertainment. Accuracy often takes a backseat to dramatic tension and high-stakes storylines. And while this can make for nail-biting, sometimes thrilling viewing, it shouldn't be relied upon as a realistic peek into what it's like being a law enforcement officer. Ask any officer, and you will likely be given a long list of what movies get wrong about being a cop; below are some of the more common inaccuracies that pop up on the big and small screens.