Why do cop shows and movies frequently show cops arguing about whose “collar” an arrest is? Is this a reference to real police work, or just make believe?


In movies and TV, the police are frequently shown fighting about whose “collar” a particular arrest is. Explain this to me. Why do cops care who gets credit for an arrest and how does that work? Is there an arrest leaderboard or something? Does it affect promotions?

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4 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are jurisdiction (teritory)and levels (local, state, federal) levels of crime that each require the appropriate agency to intervene.

If they are arguing about jurisdiction, it’s mostly because if the cops from Conty A were to mess up in County B, it would still be blamed on County B or it could blow up an other investigation.

If you are talking about levels of government, the usual cliché is local cop is too smart to be local and has a closer rivalry with local but high level criminal. As it turns out, the higher level government already have eyes on the criminal and for some reason need a huge crime to take him down.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Lol why would it be make believe?? They want credit for the work they do to get noticed for promotions in the future or just to show they are good at their job, of course if it was a big case and what not it would be a group effort or even multi agencies. But it’s a thing and just like someone wanting credit for doing a good job in another industry.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Everyone wants recognition for their work and everyone wants to make their boss happy. Might result in a better evaluation/promotion. The higher ups get to use it as publicity and justification for keeping their job/budget.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s mostly just make believe.

Jurisdictional disputes between different law enforcement agencies do exist. However, these aren’t really about ‘credit’. They’re about how serious the crimes are, who has the legal authority to enforce/prosecute them and, to a large extent, who is stuck with the bill. If you’re transporting illegal water fowl (a federal crime) when you’re arrested for a driveby shooting, chances are the feds will simply look the other way while the state prosecutes you. If you’re speeding while transporting illegal water fowl, the state will probably let you slide on the moving violation and have the feds foot the bill.

In terms of ‘credit’ between officers in the same law enforcement organization, it’s more a matter of who writes the report. Generally, this will be an officer in the appropriate detail who is chosen by virtue of the fact that they have the least to do at the moment. In Hollywood, you have ‘super cops’ who do everything. In the real world, you just have guys sitting in an office sipping coffee until someone gets themselves murdered.

Moreover, while it may seem like ‘credit’ is a good thing, it’s not.

Your promotion isn’t based on high profile cases. At low levels, it’s based on tests, educational credentials and – most importantly – *keeping your nose clean*. You know the best way to keep your nose clean? Never be the guy writing the report on anything. The moment you take responsibility for a case, you’re the one who gets blamed for bad publicity/legal liability, failure to close the case or fumbled prosecutions.

At higher levels, promotion is almost purely political. You’re advancing to Chief of Police not because you’re the next Sherlock Holmes but because you’ve proven your loyalty to the right power brokers in the city. They couldn’t care less if you’re a fumble-fingered nitwit as long as you’re *their* fumble-fingered nitwit.