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The Hollywood effect: Police chief reflects on real life vs. the movies | Arts & Entertainment


Lewiston Police Chief Bud Heard has seen a lot in his 31.5-year law enforcement career as he prepares to retire later this month.

But there’s a lot he doesn’t see in Hollywood that would make you believe that every officer deals with it every day.

Of course, law enforcement often appears in TV and movies, but in Hurd’s experience, what’s shown on screen rarely matches what’s happening in real life.

“For me, if they were really portraying the way police departments work, they probably wouldn’t sell a lot of movies because there’s a lot of mundane stuff that happens in police departments solving cases and doing their jobs,” he said.

Hollywood both glorified the job and glorified it, Hurd was told by then-police chief John “Jack” Baldwin when he entered the industry. The central gunfights and car chases of many TV shows and movies don’t happen as often as Hollywood suggests, even in big cities.

“We rarely run into people in the street and shoot people,” Hurd said. “There hasn’t been at least one or two shootouts in the police movies I’ve seen.”

You might think, based on certain movie and TV scenes, that after a few days of investigation, Hurd would call his detective into his office to rant about how people are scared and need answers, that the mayor is giving He’s putting pressure on the case, and detectives now have 48 hours to solve it — otherwise.

This situation, perhaps not surprisingly, is completely unrealistic. Investigations can continue as long as the statute of limitations applies, which may be one year, five years or unlimited, depending on the crime. This includes unsolved cases such as the 1982 disappearance of Jacqueline “Brandy” Miller, Christina Nelson and Steven Pearsall at the Civic Theatre in Lewiston, which are still under investigation. Even after an arrest, the crime may continue to be investigated and followed up before trial.

“Hollywood fixed everything in 60 minutes,” Hurd said. “But in real life, that’s not the case unless you happen to be there and all the pieces are in place and then you can charge someone.”

By focusing so heavily on the crime-resolution portion of law enforcement, Hollywood isn’t showing other aspects of the investigation, such as how officials handle the impact of crime on victims, their families, and even suspects, Hurd said.

“Hollywood will never, I think will never know how this happened,” Hurd said. “Because you’re not there. You can’t repeat some of the sadness and grief we dealt with.”

Although Hurd said he’s seen some improvements, Hollywood doesn’t often portray police officers’ personalities. Movies and TV shows rarely show the community relationships police build in the places they serve, focusing instead on operations. “(It’s) more about shooting them and hooking them and sending them to jail, the ‘Hawaii 5-0’ mentality,” he said. “That’s not it. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes that a lot of people don’t know or see.”

Some of that behind-the-scenes work is investigations, which Hollywood shows are happening much faster than what is usually possible in real life. These descriptions affect real-world courtrooms when juries receive their cases.

Hurd said TV shows like “NCIS” and “CSI” and their spin-offs could mislead jurors about how real investigations and evidence work, the so-called “CSI effect,” where jurors are trying to determine a case. are influenced by what they see on TV. Lawyers must guide jurors through the investigative process so that jurors understand how the techniques used by forensic scientists actually work, for example, sometimes dispelling notions about methods shown on TV that don’t even exist in the real world .

Even if the technology they describe for analyzing evidence does exist, TV and movies often misrepresent how or how accurately the technology is used. Hollywood convinces people that there is only one method of forensic analysis, then exaggerates the usefulness of evidence such as DNA, bullet trajectories and fingerprints, presenting an ideal that rarely occurs in the real world, Hurd said.

“It’s not that some technology doesn’t exist, it’s just that it’s not perfect,” he said.

For example, fingerprint analysis in TV shows and movies may lead viewers to believe that every time someone touches something, a fingerprint is left, which is inaccurate. Even if fingerprints are left, it may be part of the print that forensic scientists cannot read, or they may find fingerprints from multiple individuals and have to sort them.

Hollywood exaggerates the frequency of sensational cases, but that’s not to say the police don’t handle a ton of memorable cases.

While Chief Heard didn’t go fishing for sharks like Police Chief Martin Brody in “Jaws,” he did have a wild animal call.

“I called and they said they had a big cat. It turned out to be a mountain lion,” he said.

Living in a rural area, it’s not uncommon to receive a call calling a bear or elk into the city.

“Nothing surprises me anymore,” he said. “You never know what’s going to come.”

Sadly, that doesn’t include Bigfoot.

“As far as I know, we’ve never seen a wildfoot in town,” he said.

Hurd’s bizarre encounters as a police officer can’t match the saga of Hawkins Police Chief Jim Hopper’s saga on Netflix’s Stranger Things. But when police in Lewiston get a few “weird” calls, they always investigate, and Hurd knows, based on his years of experience in law enforcement, that a full moon on Friday the 13th means “things will change” Kind of weird.”

As for the most widely known cop stereotype, the love of donuts, Hurd isn’t sure where it started.

“I’ll never really be able to figure out why we’re affected by the doughnut thing,” he said. “When I went to college, they didn’t cover that chapter on why the police are related to donuts.”

He has a theory, however: The police do a lot of shift work, including at cemeteries, early mornings making coffee and doughnuts, and often those places are the only ones open.Hurd remembered a local doughnut shop, Daylight Doughnuts, that he would go to because it was the only place open at 3am apart from a few gas stations

Despite the stereotype of being a cop for donut lovers, “we have it,” Hurd said. If someone brought a box of donuts to the police station to say thanks, not many people would say no.

“I always say I wouldn’t turn down a good cinnamon roll either,” he said. “I do like being a good maple bar, though.”

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