COPS is an American documentary television series that follows police officers, constables, and sheriff's deputies during patrols and other police work. It is one of the longest-running television programs in the United States and the second longest-running show on Fox. Created by John Langley and Malcolm Barbour, it premiered on March 11, 1989, and has aired over 600 episodes. It won the American Television Award in 1993, and has earned four Emmy nominations. It celebrated its 650th episode on May 20, 2006, and will air its 700th episode November 11th, 2007.

COPS is broadcast by Fox (although syndicated to other networks) and follows the activities of police officers by embedding camera crews with police units. The show's formula follows the Cinéma vérité convention, with no narration or scripted dialog, depending entirely on the commentary of the officers and on the actions of the people with whom they come into contact.

The show has followed officers in 140 different cities in the United States, and also has filmed in Hong Kong, London, and the former Soviet Union. Each episode is approximately 22 minutes in length, and typically consists of three segments, with each segment being one or two self-contained police incidents.

The show is well known for its theme song, "Bad Boys", sung by reggae group Inner Circle.

COPS was created by John Langley and his producing partner Malcolm Barbour. In 1983 Langley was working on Cocaine Blues, a television series about drugs in South Florida. As part of his research he went on a drug raid with drug enforcement officers, and was inspired to create a show focusing on real-life law enforcement. In the late 1980s, after producing a series of live syndicated specials called American Vice: The Doping of a Nation with Geraldo Rivera, Langley and Barbour pitched the COPS show concept to Stephen Chao, a FOX programming executive who would one day become president of the Fox Television Stations Group and later USA Network. Chao liked the concept and pitched it to Barry Diller, then CEO of the FOX Network. As fate would have it, a Writers Guild of America strike was occurring at the time, and the network needed new material. An unscripted show that did not require writers would be ideal for FOX.

The first episode aired in 1989, and featured the Broward County, Florida, Sheriff's Department. The original concept of the show was to follow officers home and tape their home lives along with their work. After a while this concept was deemed too artificial by Langley and was abandoned. Eventually, the format of three self-contained segments with no narrator, no music and no scripts would become the show's formula. The first segment is usually an action segment to hook the viewer, followed by two unrelated segments.

This formula has consistently proven successful, as COPS routinely wins its 8pm and 8:30pm repeat time slot on Saturday nights every year, and paired with the companion show America's Most Wanted following at 9pm, has created a strong and consistent night for Fox with steady ratings. Excepting a month and a half gap in the fall of 1996, the Saturday night schedule has remained unchanged since March 1989.

On May 29, 2007, "Cops 2.0" premiered on G4tv, featuring repeats of episodes with on-screen games, live web-enabled chat and facts about the law enforcement officers featured in each program.

Recently, several themed DVDs have been released, some of which include profanity and sexually explicit footage cut from the network version. They are entitled COPS: Shots Fired, COPS: Bad Girls, and COPS: Caught in the Act.

In 1999, Hank Barr published The Jump-Out Boys, a book giving a behind the scenes look at the production and taping of COPS.

In 1994, COPS went into syndication, and can be seen on many cable and over-the-air channels at many times of day.

As one of the longest running shows on television, COPS has many references to it in popular culture, and is a popular subject for parody. The success, longevity, and popularity of COPS has also influenced many different television shows and documentaries on law enforcement (see List of television series influenced by COPS).Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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