Crime fiction is part of American lore on TV as well as in novels. Just the facts. Three words that were seared into our pop culture consciousness by the TV show Dragnet and Sgt. Joe Friday. The concept started with a radio program that Jack Webb launched after serving with the Army Air Corps during World War II.
Webb said the character of Joe Friday was “neutral.” In an interview with the New York Times, Webb remarked that Joe Friday “had no religion, no childhood, no educational background, no war record and no personal side at all.”
What he did have was a close working relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department. After Webb’s death, the LAPD chief at the time, Daryl Gates, ordered flags flown at half mast. The working relationship was too close, according to a critical article in 2015 published in The Atlantic:
The idealized image of the Los Angeles Police Department that the series portrayed, of a thoroughly modern agency dispassionately dispensing justice, is sharply at odds with the historical reality of an imperfect force beset by racism, brutality, and decades of scandals.
Joe Friday likely does resemble what we think of the American police detective — neutral but with a good and compassionate side who works tirelessly to fight evil.
What detectives do you recall from books, TV or movies?
A new detective on the scene is Tom Stone and his partner Jake Sharpe in Tom Stone: Nitty Gritty Christmas; Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Nights; and Tom Stone: Day of the Dead.