One of my favorite reality shows is the First 48. I first came across this tv show while in a hotel with my Dad driving back up from California two years ago--I was utterly captivated. I generally dislike cop shows, Law&Order, etc., but this show is REAL. Murders in the First 48 don't play out the way they do in cop shows, and I love it for that. It seriously makes me want a career in Law Enforcement.
It astonishes me how easy some cases are to solve--so many people confess, and all the murderers have criminal records. Interestingly, evidence does not link people to their crimes. Instead, cases are solved by people revealing their friends' confessions, eyewitnesses, and identifications. Because of this, I have watched several episodes that hit dead ends incredibly quickly because no one would talk. You can tell which communities have well-entrenched histories of crime in looking at how they approach the police.
So much of police work involves rote follow up, often on a massive scale (black sedans, anyone?) Some of the police officers' demeanor hints at laziness or defeatism. They all have incredible personalities. One of my favorites is Caroline Mason, of the Memphis police department. She is exactly like Carla from Reno 911 (the black woman on the left). Before she goes on her murder investigations, she applies hairspray. She has huge fake nails and walks in heels on gravel roads. Here are some comparative photos/clips, the best I could find: