For Hollywood tells me so! (5 ridiculous police myths)

I have no idea how to make a movie. But I once typed "filmmaking" into Wikipedia.

And holy shit.

Even if it's just three of your closest nerdy hipster friends and an iPhone with filter apps, there is a lot that goes on.
I can't imagine the stress that comes with trying to wrangle the cast, crew, location, and accounting departments for a major studio's big budget flick.

And God help you if it's a period piece.
So, with all the intricacies that go into making a movie, it's easy to see how factual mistakes can occur. And they do. Repeatedly.
To the point where certain things, although incorrect, have become accepted as fact simply because we've seen them happen all the time in movies and on T.V.

Like how this ^ is actually way more common than this ^
And that wheezing noise probably isn't just the oxygen mask...
How law enforcement is portrayed is particularly rife with discrepancies. But besides the stereotypes of idealistic rookie, incompetent prick, thug with a badge, and Danny Glover's being "too old for this shit", here are four things that the entertainment industry loves to screw up.

5. Tasers knock people unconscious.

As seen in: Boondock Saints, Repo Men, Thor

You've seen it before. Someone gets tasered and is immediately out cold for however long it's convenient for the plot of the movie.

Even the immortal God of Thunder is not immune.
And while I agree that "magic-knock-out-gun" would be way cooler, in actuality, a taser is just a nifty little device that disrupts the body's nervous system for a five second period, by sending out a low amperage current via two metal probes that stick into the skin.

The two probes make a complete takin-down-a-fool circuit when in contact with the skin.
Just like you learned in science class.
Basically it causes a loss of muscle control, which results in the person or animal falling to the ground. Something that I happen to have first hand experience with...

With very few exceptions, the only way a person will lose consciousness after a taser is deployed on them is because they've whacked their head on something while falling.

And if that still sounds scary, just remember, it beats getting a bullet through the chest.

Speaking of bullets...

4. Couldn't you have just shot 'em in the leg?

As seen in: Blazing Saddles, Shoot 'Em Up, several westerns whose names escape me.

It's a tragic thing to happen. A man wielding a knife in a threatening manner approaches officers.
The man is shot and killed.  It turns out he suffered from a mental disorder. A public relations nightmare ensues. His family is stunned.
"He wasn't a violent person. I don't understand. Couldn't they have just shot him in the leg?" Says the concerned neighbor, vaguely remembering a Clint Eastwood movie where he shot a gun out of an outlaw's hand.
It's horrible and unfortunate, but no. No they could not. There's a reason why there's no "leg targets" available.
Just these.
Look down at your leg. It's probably comparable to the width of a Subway 6in, give or take.
Delicious gams.
Now consider your chest. Much wider, eh?
When a person is running, the chest area isn't moving around nearly as much as the legs.
If someone is foolish enough to actively try and shoot an aggressor in the leg there's a very real chance that they'll miss completely, or even worse, strike a bystander.

For that reason, (and a few more), there's not a single law enforcement agency that teaches their officers to shoot for the leg or arm. As well they shouldn't.

Because if you need to stop someone without killing them, that's what tasers are for.

3. Ankle monitors are the last word in offender tracking technology.

Fashionable accessories for your favorite felon!
As seen in: Disturbia, Burn Notice

A felon is on the run, but he can't manage to cut off his tether. The camera pans to several officers touching their ear pieces in concentration. They quickly mobilize and capture the offender within minutes!
You won't be scaring children anymore.
Nope. Not so much.

Here's how it really works.

There are several companies that manufacture and maintain ankle monitors, and although they may have some different fancy features, there are only two main varieties: GPS and radio.

GPS sounds way sexier, and is very effective at pinpointing a person's location at any given time.
But effectiveness = expensive. So GPS is generally only used on sex offenders, although not on as many as you might think...
Sorry, but your children's safety is just really pricy.
The radio variety is far more commonly employed, but can only determine whether a person is inside or outside of their residence. They're kind of like an annoying little sibling who tells on you when you break your curfew.
I know you didn't come home until 1am.
I'm telling Mom!
That being said, let's clear up some of the more common mistaken beliefs associated with ankle monitors...

First off, the police are not immediately notified and sent to investigate if a monitor is cut, or removed, or is outside/inside a particular area.
Someone broke their curfew? Get back to me when there's a real crime.
If an ankle monitor strap is tampered with or cut, a notification is sent to the offender's supervision officer, (usually a parole or probation officer)... two to four hours later.
Think of how far away a person can get in two to four hours.
And then imagine that instead of running, they took a car
GPS systems are faster, but there's still a time lapse. And if the bracelet is gone there's no way of figuring out their location.
But couldn't we just round up a posse, monitor all the bus stations, departing flights, and road block all the streets going out of town?
Posse round up time!
I've waited so long for this.
Unless the person has recently committed as especially heinous crime.... no. Too costly, too disruptive, and too poor a use of manpower.

There's also no effective way to "beat" an ankle monitoring system. The monitor works on the concept of maintaining a complete electrical circuit that's embedded into the rubber of the strap. If the connection is disrupted, either by cutting or taking it apart, then the circuit is broken and a notification is sent out.
No problem! You might say. I'm a circus freak with tiny heels, so I'll just wiggle out. Nope. Sorry. The device also needs to stay in contact with the skin so it can register a heartbeat. Which is why people with prosthetic legs get a monitor attached to their wrist.

But while you can't "beat" the system, sometimes the monitor itself is defective. (Since many agencies tend to go with the cheapest monitoring service instead of the best) And setting one up properly can be quite the process, requiring both the officer, monitoring agency, and offender to work together during initial activation. Pretty obvious how that could be an issue...

Some varieties can be awful temperamental too. Strong magnets, proximity to microwaves, and being submerged in water can mess up the system.

Very imperfect device.

2. Forensic science can solve a case in less than an hour!

As seen in: Bones, CSI everything

A good friend of mine works for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as a forensic biologist. And although she is just as smokin' as all the other forensic hotties you see on T.V, that's where the similarities end.
Of course.
Granted these are T.V shows, so to avoid confusing their audience, they're only going to focus on one case. But meanwhile, the folks who do this stuff for real are multitasking between several hundred cases.
And no, it will not be concluded in 45 minutes.

You expect us to be accurate and fast?!
How absurd!
So if you need evidence processed, hope you're cool with waiting a few months.
And that's... that's all I've got.
I dunno, I don't work in forensics. But apparently when you're dealing with a few million dollars worth of equipment and minute bits of evidence, things take awhile.

1. Read me my Miranda Rights, bitch.

As seen in: Seriously? You really need examples for this? Fine...
Lethal Weapon, RoboCop, Bad Boys, 21 Jump Street, Running Scared, every arrest scene ever...

Anyway, say you're a sovereign citizen douchebag who just got tasered...

Skip to the two minute mark if you're pressed for time.
May not have been entirely right, but certainly deserved.

Anyway, now you're arrested and on the way to jail.

But wait! Something seems... off.

Memories of the arrest scenes from every cop movie ever come flooding back...

"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you..."

A-ha! You've got it! Those dumb cops didn't read you your rights. By the laws of Hollywood, you must be set free!
Haha! Suckers!
Except not.

Unless you're being interrogated, (also known as that scene in the movie where the nice officer gives you coffee and a cigarette while the mean officer threatens to jack you up against the wall if you don't answer some questions), officers DO NOT have to read you the Miranda warning. That's it, plain and simple. And I cannot tell you how tired I am of arguing about it.

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