Cops (stylized as COPS) is an American half-hour documentary/reality legal series that follows police officers, constables, sheriff's deputies, federal agents and state troopers during patrols and other police activities including vice and narcotics stings. It is one of the longest-running television programs in the United States and in May 2011 became the longest-running show on Fox with the announcement that America's Most Wanted was being canceled after 23 years. John Walsh appeared many times on Cops. It follows the activities of police officers by assigning television camera crews to accompany them as they perform their duties. The show's formula follows the cinéma vérité convention, which does not consist of any narration or scripted dialog, depending entirely on the commentary of the officers and on the actions of the people with whom they come into contact.
Created by John Langley and Malcolm Barbour, it premiered on March 11, 1989. It won the American Television Award in 1993 and has earned four Emmy nominations. When the show went primetime in 1991, and consisted of two episodes in the 8 p.m. hour, it was called Primetime Cops in promos for several years. The series was one of only two remaining first-run prime-time programs airing on Saturday nights on the four major U.S. broadcast television networks (along with CBS's 48 Hours Mystery). Malcolm Barbour retired from producing Cops in 1994.
For the first 25 seasons, Cops was broadcast by Fox with reruns of earlier seasons syndicated by local television stations and cable networks, including truTV and the now defunct G4. After Fox canceled the show in May 2013, Spike picked it up for an additional four seasons, in addition to reruns of previous seasons. The 28th season of the series premiered on June 20, 2015, and ended on April 30, 2016. Season 29 premiered on June 4, 2016. Cops is currently filming season 30. Spike airs the show in the same time slot as Fox had, 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturdays.
The show has followed officers in 140 different cities in the United States, Hong Kong, London, and the Soviet Union. Each episode runs about 30 minutes long and consisted of three self-contained segments that did not consist of any narration, music, and scripts.
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