There’s possibly a whole generation out there now who think Politically Correct Policing all started in Britain in about 1999 when the McPherson Report was published. Well, I’ve got news for those punks. Politically correct cops had been with us since the 1970’s and for a while it seemed like you couldn’t be a successful cop unless you had some kind of problem. But the problem didn’t mean you needed help, your problem instead made you special.
It had all begun even earlier. It was that year of revolution – 1967 and a cop was shot in the line of duty. Who can forget the buzz-saw theme as Ironside was felled in silhouette by an assassin’s bullet. Left paraplegic, there was no time for moping around for this tough cookie. He became the wheelchair-bound leader of a crack force of law and order. No wheel was left unturned as Robert T. Ironside added even further to his politically correct credentials by employing the silky but tough Eve Whitfield, a crook-cracking female constable, or whatever the heck the Yanks called her rank.
Once the TV police had cottoned-on to how well the public responded to a politically correct cop, the spring turned into a mountain stream in full flood. In no particular order they flowed off the Quinn Martin & Others production line. In no order other than my random memory, there was…
THE OBESE COP
Cannon was fat but any female under threat knew they were safe in his hands, just so long as they didn’t mind sharing them with pizza and pasta. Showing a surprising agility Frank Cannon could negotiate the criminal elements with as much élan as he would the Drive In Restaurants, when on duty. His driving in fact became a major feature of his crime-busting since like Ironside he wasn’t much use on his own two feet, but this fat guy didn’t mope about on a couch, waiting for a tummy tuck. He got out there and pulled his weight.
THE BLIND COP
Longstreet was sublimely handsome. He was so blonde and beautiful it’s probably just as well that he was blind because otherwise he would probably never have gotten past the mirror each morning, and never actually become perhaps the most politically correct of all the cops. Unable to see a clue, he could sense them instead. Unable to hear a criminal, he could smell them; but in fact smelling the crooks was also the job of his just as stunningly attractive guide-dog, Pax. A blind man and his best friend, the all-seeing dog. There has never been anyone to match Longstreet as not just correct but totally on-message. Give a man a chance and no disability can stand in the way of the pursuit of Justice.
THE BOW-LEGGED COP
You might think being bow-legged is not such a terrible disability for a cop, and on the scale of paraplegia some way down from the difficulties overcome by Ironside. But being bow-legged was not the only problem McCloud had to deal with. He also had to chase crooks wearing dude cowboy boots, which, if you’re bow-legged as well, is no mean feat. His biggest problem though was to get his horse around town without the animal becoming an equine casualty of the Highway. McCloud’s ceaseless loyalty to his horse surely marks him out as the premier example of a cop who is kind to animals too.
THE OLD COP
In these troubling times of an increasing ageist tendency, Barnaby Jones proved that your body might be decrepit but so long as the mind remained sharp, no criminal could evade you for long. In truth the British had pre-empted this political correctness with the BBC’s Dixon of Dock Green, who for many years proved that just because you are in your Seventies doesn’t mean that you cannot keep the streets safe for women to walk on. A more recent UK policy seems to be to instead remove the men of seventy and put them in prison instead. It seems a new cop will always beat an old cop – given the chance to best him of course.
THE MARRIED COP
Proving that marriage was no obstacle to being a great cop MacMillan and Wife kept the streets clean and ensured there was no hanky-panky on duty for the craggily good-looking Mac. Demonstrating that a wife was a positive asset to any crime-fighter, the concept proved so popular that it was rebooted for Hart to Hart, a male-female crime-fighting duo who even took the concept of politically correct policing into the 1980s.
THE BALD COP
Just having the disability of having no hair might seem no big thing to a 21st Century man but believe me, being bald as a coot in the 1970’s marked you out as weird, man. Add to that you appear to carry around an endless supply of lollipops, and it’s not hard to see that in this century Kojak might be so politically correct for the 1970’s that he might now be deemed as hiding in plain sight. Who loves ya Baby, *cough*
THE FEMALE COP
Police Woman demonstrated that being blond, petite and pretty was no bar to kicking crook-ass and Pepper, as she was called would put salt on any boy’s tail as she cleaned up the city.. single-handed. Pepper became eclipsed by Charlie’s Angels, who were the three high-kickers who even survived into the new century but in their first incarnation, don’t be misled by the notion that they belonged to any man. These girls were strictly their own women and Charlie was just a voice on a phone. No men required, and it doesn’t get any more politically correct than that in the UK just now.
THE COP WITH ANGER MANAGEMENT ISSUES
Proving that just because you spend your large chunks of your life alongside dead bodies doesn’t make you weird, Quincy could catch a criminal simply by analysing a sample from the victim. Perhaps Quincy wasn’t quite up to the modern mark of preventative policing, but give Quince a vic and he’d give you the crim before the hour was up. Quincy’s biggest contribution to politically correct policing was however his Empathising with the Victim anger issues. You could be certain that Quincy would explode with fury and much slamming of doors, several times an episode as his frustration that all his clients were already dead would continually come to the fore.
Finally, perhaps the biggest contributor to Politically Correct Policing was Columbo. It wasn’t that he was a one-eyed cop. This aspect of his persona never became part of the plot. Rather than whine about having a glass eye, peter Falk simply exploited his disability to perfect a quizzical squint. So, I won’t mention the fact Columbo was the original one-eyed policeman… well not again anyway. No, the real contribution of Columbo was the he remains the one and only AUTISTIC COP WITH ASPERGER TENDENCIES. What made Columbo truly special was that he never sought therapy or medical help for his personality defects and faults. He just did things his way, and his results are still borne witness to most weekends, on some channel somewhere, even now, in the ever-increasing circles of the world of politically correct policing in the 21st century. Mental health? For Columbo it was just a state of mind.
Just one moor thing…
Humm… Maybe later….