Michelle C. Pautz, University of Dayton
With numerous incidents in the last year in which law enforcement officers played a role in the deaths of citizens, there is a renewed focus on cops and their actions. Part of that conversation has to do with the nation’s preconceived notions of cops and where those ideas might originate. Popular culture contributes to those images. This study explores one source of those images—film. More specifically, this study investigates the image of law enforcement on the silver screen from 1984 through 2014. With a sample of 34 films and more than 200 cop characters, this study finds a fairly mixed general depiction of law enforcement on the silver screen, but finds a positive depiction of individual cop characters. The largest descriptor of these characters was good, hard-working, and competent law enforcement officers. This exploratory study helps inform broader conversations about the images of cops we get in popular culture.
PS: Political Science & Politics / Volume 49 / Issue 02 / April 2016, pp 250-258 / Copyright © American Political Science Association 2016