Re: RARA-AVIS: police manpower

From: Joy Matkowski (
Date: 04 Sep 2003

I have seen a busload of police awaiting trouble, but that's crowd control and not criminal catching. Thrillers sometimes seem to feature unlikely numbers of police. I think real life is more like the average police procedural, such as the last one I read, Silent Proof by Michael A. Hawley
(who's a sheriff and shouldn't be too far off): The detective sometimes has half a dozen police at a crime scene or answering a call, plus her boyfriend from internal affairs stopping by, although others are in the background doing computer and files work, and the whole department gets a bulletin to look out for such-and-such a car.
    According to the following article about Richmond, Viriginia, I read yesterday, the number of police on the street is going down and murder rates are going up, maybe parallel to unemployment rates, maybe related to lack of funding for the 100,000 COPS community policing program, and probably on account of so many police officers having been called to military active duty:


Mark Sullivan asked:
> Last night I saw Jean Pierre Melville's Le Samourai. During a climactic
> scene, the police follow Alain Delon through the Metro. The chief
> investigator of a single murder has assigned 50, count 'em, 50 cops to
> the task. They lose him, of course, though they catch up to him just in
> time.
> There were probably 50 cops assigned to the kidnapping in Kurosawa's
> High and Low, too.
> Granted, these were foreign films, but I seem to remember similar
> amounts of manpower being devoted to single cases in old US films
> (though I can't think of a specific example). Was this ever close to
> reality, that that many cops would be devoted to a single case, no
> matter how high profile?
> High and Low was based on McBain's King's Ransom. In that book, a
> handful of cops, along with help from various crime scene and lab
> investigators handled the case. McBain is known for his meticulous
> handling of police procedure, so I'm guessing that's far closer to the
> truth. In these days of budgetary concerns, I'm betting it's even less.
> How many cops are actually assigned (as opposed to watching out and/or
> giving occasional assistance) to a redball, as they call high profile
> cases in Homicide?

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