Why is there always room for another police cruiser at a crime scene?
I happened to be watching some TV the other day and I saw something that maybe I noticed before, but didn’t really think about. As I was watching New Amsterdam, I saw the yellow crime scene tape outside the scene of the crime. The tape extended almost to the sidewalk as well. Parked at the curb were a police cruiser and a black unmarked car. Between them was enough space for, you guessed it, Detective Amsterdam to pull up and park perfectly between them. Tires less than six inches from the curb and two feet of room between the car in front and the car in back. Also, he was parked directly in front of the door. Amazing, I thought.
That was until I watched a couple of episodes of Chicago Blue, Police Squad, Raines, Cannon, Hawaii Five-O (Jack Lord version) and some others too old and/or too numerous to mention. But in each of these shows and in more than a few episodes (all right, most), the street could be crowded with police vehicles and even some civilian cars and yet there was always enough room for the star of the show (or his good buddy, partner, etcetera) to drive up at speed and then stop on a dime, perfectly in line with and between the lines. That is, if there are any.
Then there was Frank Drebin. He was the Lieutenant Detective Sergeant of Police Squad. He could park in the appointed place for hero cops only if it were blocked by a full trash can. I think he even knocked over a fire hydrant or two in his time.
There seems to be a rule. I am not sure, but almost all cop shows follow this weird sort of standard where the main character has to drive up into the empty slot as if it is reserved for him. Men get to do it all the time. Notice that the only woman who got to do this was Cagney? Not even Angie Dickinson got to do that. And she was one tough Police Woman!
Even private detectives followed this rule. Rockford comes to mind, as well as Mannix and Barnaby Jones. Frank Cannon was mentioned earlier as he was a retired cop. Jim Rockford was a pardoned felon. I’m just sayin’.
And check out the movies. Any movie with Will Smith as a cop. Bad Boys, Men in Black, and maybe some others I haven’t seen. However, some don’t follow this seemingly unwritten rule. Bruce Willis as John McClain in the Die Hard movies. Any Jackie Chan outing where he plays a policeman, will have a bizarre way of getting to the crime scene. There are many others that I can’t think of right now but we know which ones they are.
In comedy shows like Sledge Hammer and the Andy Griffith Show, things were a little different. For one thing, Sledge Hammer might just drive through the front door or the plate glass window before stopping. And in Andy Griffith, Barney Fife was either part of the action or it was coming to him. So that one doesn’t really count.
One thing I bet that most people aren’t aware of is that this rule applies to westerns (series), at least in a general sense. However, policemen or detectives didn’t really populate westerns unless they were Pinkerton Men. Those that enforced the law in the old west were called Marshall or Sheriff. Matt Dillon was a United States Marshall. Matt Dillon always got off his horse at the scene of the crime. Paladin in Have Gun Will Travel did as well. Wild, Wild West and Bonanza, are like most of the comedies in that they don’t count. That is, unless Little Joe and Hoss were the only ones involved.