Mr. Apron and I watch “Cops”, that never-to-be-cancelled Fox program that always opens with either, “Well, my dad was a cop, and my granddaddy, too, so I always figured I’d be a cop and give back to my community,”  or “You never know what’s going to happen; each day is different.” 

Each show is different, too, but with some comforting predictability and regularity.  The perps always complain when they get rough-housed.  They always deny wrong-doing and have flimsy excuses.  The battered spouses can never decide who threw the first blow.  And they always run “cuz I wuz scerred”. 

My family makes fun of us for watching Cops.  Judging from the targeted commercials for big trucks and the “repo” show, we’re probably not their typical audience, either.  But I will defend our choice to watch the show.  It was the first of its kind, and still holds its own among a vast field of other “ride along with the pros” shows.  We’ve tried others, and they just don’t measure up.  We watched “Jail” one night – the pacing was deadly and it was just depressing images of people crying as they sobered up in cinder block cells.  The only amusing part was when they put a helmet on some chick who kept banging her head against the walls. 

Supernanny is another reality show we sometimes watch.  While it’s great and all, Jojums always offers the same advice to the parents – the naughty chair/step/bench/corner/room – because they are usually hesitant to use any structure or discipline whatsoever.  The moms bond with their daughters, the dads throw a football with the sons, and she pulls away in the London Taxi just the same. 

Animal Planet has an “animal police” program, which just plain sucks.  We couldn’t make it through one episode.  It was geared more towards the animal-loving girlie-horsie cop-as-social-worker crowd.  And I’m a girlie, animal-loving vegetarian whose sister is going to be a social worker.  I couldn’t stand it. Just arrest the dumb bitch who starved her animals, haul the horses away, and cut to the high-speed chase already.

Then you’ve got your homeowner type shows, whose “real” characters (homeowners) are so painful they have to script each line of the program. 

“Why, hello, Mrs. S.  How can we help you today?”

(Awkwardly and rehearsed) “Hi, Bob.  We bought this house (insert #) years ago, and have just about finished renovating, but we still have some radiators which need to be repainted (or insert other unfinished project).” 

(With false enthusiasm) “Great, well why don’t we get started?”

(blandly) “Sure.  Let me show you the (insert room of home)”

Then there’s the show where they set up a false dichotomy of maximally opposed choices.  Pick your genre of show – House Hunters, Trading Spouses, Wife Swap, Blind Date, Meanest Parents, etc.  And who can forget the shows where they inject the same kinds of crisis each and every episode – Top Chef, Cake Boss, Say Yes to the Dress, etc.  Yes, they’re fun if you watch them sparingly, but we have cable now, folks!  These things are on all day long!!  I’ve seen them already, I have 99 other channels, and there still isn’t anything on TV!?

But the best reason to watch Cops is for the education.  I have learned, though careful analysis, what to do, and what not to do when stopped by the police.

  • Keep your hands where he/she can see them.
  • Do not try to climb out of the car until you are told.  There’s no quicker way to get a gun drawn in your direction.
  • Do not reach into your pockets.
  • If found with a gun, do not say some black guy just gave it to you 15 minutes ago.
  • A Puerto Rican named Ernie did not loan you the car.
  • If you manage to throw the drugs/paraphernalia/weapons from the car, they are still considered “on your person”.  Even if they’re not on you.  For real.  If you throw it from the car, or as you’re running, they’ll find it. 
  • If they find it in your car, it’s yours.  It’s not your grandma’s weed.  Even if it is, they won’t believe you.
  • Large amounts of cash arouse suspicion.  Take debit when dealing drugs, or set up mobile Paypal using your iPhone. 
  • If you’re hanging out in parking lots at 2am, no cop will believe you just got off work unless you’re in your uniform. 
  • If you’re prone to get sweaty when confronted by authority figures, wear performance clothing – Underarmor, Sweat it Out, Cool Max – and strong deodorant.  Cops can smell fear. 
  • Lines that do not work – “I ran because I was scared,” “I swear to God,” “I swear on my grandmother’s grave,” “I didn’t hear the sirens or see the lights,” “I’m being straight with you,” “I didn’t do nothing,” and, my favorite, “It’s not mine.” 
  • If you’re a female, they’re more likely not to handcuff you.  Stay calm, and you stand a good chance of going home.  Unless you’re an overweight female and you’re not wearing a bra. Or you’re an underweight bimbo in stilettos.
  • When they handcuff you “for your protection and ours,” chances are, you’ll get arrested, even if they tell you, “You’re not under arrest.” 
  • They cannot loosen the handcuffs for your comfort. 

And, finally,

  • No, repeat offenders will not learn from their mistakes, will not miraculously clean up their acts and stop boozing, stealing, abusing, streaking, slutting it up, or using.  That’s where the social workers come in.