Thursday, September 29, 2011

10 Fictional Cops We Wish Were Real

10 Fictional Cops We Wish Were Real

[Editors Note: Jay Smith, writer for, sent me this article they posted and offered to allow it be run here. I know there are other fictional cops we could add to this list, but these are great picks and great comments. Thought you might enjoy.]
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With all the shows and movies focusing on police these days, it’s hard to find any unique or likable cop characters. Many seem to be cast from the same mold, making it hard to connect to them or emotionally invest in their characters. But there is a handful of fictional cops who know it is their duty to protect, serve, and entertain. Whether we love them for their competency or for their hilarious mistakes, here are 10 police characters that we wish were real.
  1. Larvelle Jones from Police Academy

    One of the most important skills for a police officer to have is the ability to produce awesome sound effects with his mouth, and Larvelle Jones is a master. He should’ve been able to skip the police academy altogether. He uses this talent to not only annoy his authorities but to intimidate suspects and entertain the public (or make them flee in terror depending on the circumstances). From gunshots to helicopters to harmonicas, Jones can do it all, and he’d make a very effective officer in the real world since most of us would probably be much more willing to cooperate with a human beatbox than a normal cop.
  2. Officer Michaels and Officer Slater from Superbad

    Officer Michaels and his partner Officer Slater would probably be the last police officers you would want protecting you, but the only ones you would want busting you at a party. They attempt to do their jobs sometimes, and if there was a person in danger, they would probably help, but for the most part, these guys are just laid-back idiots. It’s nice, though, to see cops relating to young people and helping one guy have the best night of his life. Maybe it’s a little extreme to set your own police car on fire, but that just keeps criminals from doing it later.
  3. Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show

    When it comes to small-town deputies, Barney Fife is as tough as they come. Between locking up alcoholics in one of Mayberry’s two jail cells and wooing Thelma Lou, Barney still found plenty of time to inadvertently foil criminals’ plans and take care of a goat full of dynamite. He may not be the biggest or smartest policeman to walk a beat, but he helped keep Mayberry one of the safest TV towns. Every city could benefit from a big-hearted, strong-willed deputy like Barney Fife who will work day and night to nip crime in the bud.
  4. William "Bunk" Moreland from The Wire

    William "Bunk" Moreland, a homicide detective in the acclaimed series, The Wire, is the kind of cop you want patrolling your city. As a character, he’s believable at his weakest, displaying faults like alcohol abuse and infidelity, but he’s amazing at his best. Bunk’s a hard worker who always tries to do the right thing and understands the community he’s protecting. He can get punk kids to talk, relate to informants, and use his wit to make you love him. He also provides consistency in the homicide department throughout the series, making you trust your own police force a little bit more. It’s all in the line of duty.
  5. Chief Clancy Wiggum from The Simpsons

    Growing up, Chief Wiggum was always the cop in cops and robbers, was a hall monitor, and maybe a part-time security guard. That’s the kind of dedication we’d like to see in our real-life police forces. Sure, he’s a little pudgy and mostly incompetent, but he’s always there when Springfield needs him, even if he’s not entirely helpful. He also has a couple heroic moments under his extra long belt: solving the attempted murder of Mr. Burns and saving the Simpson family from Sideshow Bob. Even though he’s quick to throw the rule book out the window, gets overly emotional about his fellow cops, and eats his weight in donuts, Chief Wiggum is responsible for Springfield being an undeniably happy place to live.
  6. Joe Friday from Dragnet

    Joe Friday was such an excellent cop, the actor who played him was buried with full police honors when he died. Friday was a no-nonsense detective with the Los Angeles police department who went about his job, boring paperwork and patrols included, with pride. He’s about as close to a real policeman as you can get on TV (or radio or the movies) because the show’s creators were careful to show every step of real LAPD cases, though most cops today can’t talk as fast as he does. Friday never revealed too much about his personal life, was never overacted, and never failed to earn respect for those in his line of work. And while we wish Joe Friday himself were real, it’s likely that we have someone almost exactly like him in our own police departments.
  7. Inspector Gadget from Inspector Gadget

    If there’s anything better than a cyborg, it’s a cyborg policeman. Inspector Gadget isn’t your typical cyborg or your typical policeman, but every child is amazed by his endless supply of high-tech tools that stay hidden beneath his hat and trench coat. He wasn’t exactly the sharpest investigator on the force, but he was brave enough to face the frightening Doctor Claw each week. It may be his niece Penny that really saves the day, but Inspector Gadget is the policeman we always tuned in to see. In real life, the police department might not hire him, but he could at least tour the country showing off his built-in helicopter and other gadgets, or make a really entertaining contestant on a reality show.
  8. Marge Gunderson in Fargo

    With a sweet Minnesota accent and a seven-month pregnant belly, Marge Gunderson is one of the most likable female cops of all time. As she investigates three murders (and those that follow) in her jurisdiction, she is incredibly competent and gets the job done by being polite and intelligent, rather than hard and unapproachable like many female police officers are portrayed. Even if the criminals hadn’t been bumbling idiots, it’s clear that Gunderson would’ve been hot on their trail. If we need role models for our little girls, we should point them toward Marge Gunderson, a strong, working woman with a husband, baby on the way and impeccable manners.
  9. John Kimble from Kindergarten Cop

    Before Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor, he was a policeman (and Danny DeVito’s twin and a pregnant man, but that’s beside the point). But he wasn’t just any policeman; he was an undercover cop who became a teacher and had a ferret who helped save the day. Detective John Kimble knows how to keep both criminals and kindergarten students in line, and he does it all with his tough but lovable accent. Even though he assaults a kid’s father and starts a relationship with a woman who is both a fellow teacher and a witness in his case, most people would agree that they would feel safer if he was protecting their children.
  10. Lennie Briscoe on Law & Order

    In the series that spawned a thousand similar series, Lennie Briscoe is the man that works the streets and makes sure that the bad guys end up behind bars. Briscoe always has some wisecrack to make and gets along well with his coworkers, but isn’t afraid to take a stand for what he believes. During his 12 seasons on the show, he saw countless murderers sentenced to prison time and helped the audience see how the law really works. For many, Briscoe is the way we envision all homicide detectives, or at least how we would want them to be.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Interview: Ex-counterterrorism Agent Fred Burton

Chasing Shadows:
A Special Agent’s Lifelong Hunt To Bring A Cold War Assassin To Justice
By Mark Young
An assassin lurked in the shadows of a quiet Bethesda, Maryland neighborhood in the summer of 1973, patiently waiting for an Israeli air force colonel to return home from a late-night party. Several blocks away lived 16-year-old Fred Burton, whose neighborhood—until this moment—seemed safe and secure.

The gunman opened fire as Col. Joe Alon exited his car. Moments later, the Israeli war hero lay dead. It would be thirty-seven years later before Burton—a State Department counterterrorism agent and later vice president of a global intelligence company known as the ‘shadow CIA’— could finally offer closure to the surviving Alon family. Plagued by a plethora of unanswered questions, Burton and others attacked this case years later, running down leads across the globe that led to terrorist groups, spies and treachery. They would find that this victim was much more than just a gifted pilot.

Chasing Shadows is a true-case story that is more captivating than any fiction Hollywood might conjure up on the big screen. It was written by coauthors Fred Burton and John Bruning.

MARK: Fred, thanks for returning to Hook’em and Book’em for another look at global terrorism and a fascinating glimpse into a case that took you and others years to uncover. A very tenacious effort. Give our readers a little background about this incident and what it meant to you on a personal level.

FRED:  I tried to stay centered over the years by focusing on the murder, looking for facts and motive.  The FBI destroyed the physical evidence in the case for reasons that remain unclear.  Pretty much everyone connected to the original case was dead. 

We've been successful in getting a Hebrew edition published that I'm very proud of for the victims family.  There was also a short film that coincided with the book done by an Israeli film crew. 

MARK: You coauthored Chasing Shadows with writer and military historian John Bruning. How did the two of you work together to create this captivating book?

FRED:  John is a brilliant military historian that is laser focused on aviation.  I needed his expertise.  The victim was a decorated fighter pilot.

MARK: One of the fascinating parts of your book for me—a Vietnam veteran—was the difficulty the USAF faced with North Vietnamese fighter pilots. I found the behind-scenes relationship between the U.S and Israel equally fascinating. How did you and John acquire this information and tie it into your investigation of Alon’s murder?

FRED:  FBI FOIA reports and John's subject matter expertise on military aircraft.  The original FBI case agent also was extraordinarily helpful.  

MARK: Since we last communicated on this blog, much has happened in the Mideast and northern Africa—Egypt, Syria, Libya and other hot spots. Can you share with us some perspective as to what we might expect to see in the near future from organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood?

FRED:  I think the verdict remains out as groups jockey for power.  The events unfolding in Libya are amazing. 

MARK: Can you give us a little background about the Muslim Brotherhood?

FRED:  In the shifting sands of power in the Middle East, one needs to study the old groups, whether it be the MB, Hezbollah or Black September.     

MARK:  As the events of the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden (OBL) unfolded last spring, I couldn’t help but think about the case detailed in your first book, GHOST: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent concerning the capture of terrorist Ramzi Youseff in Pakistan. You made reference in GHOST about the political ramifications you and others faced for keeping the information close to your vest in order to have a chance to capture this man. What were you thoughts about related issues as you watched the OBL news unfold?

FRED:  Mixed emotions.  To be blunt, I would have preferred talking to OBL.  Operationally, I've also learned that one should never second guess the operators in the field.  DevGru (Navy Seal Team 6, official known as Special Warfare Development Group) did a fine job.  Thank goodness our nation has men like that.    I'm also not surprised in the least OBL was hiding in plain sight in Pakistan.  

MARK: I can only imagine what you get involved with as vice president for counterterrorism and corporate security at Statfor. Tells us a little about the services your company  offers.

FRED:  We are an intelligence company that publishes analysis of geo-political events.  I like to say we make sense of the world.  Many of our articles are free and can be found at

MARK: Can you tell us a few of the projects you have been involved with through Statfor?

FRED: I've done a great deal of work on cartel violence in Mexico recently, along with interviews for National Geographic TV and The History Channel.   I'm also in a few Gangland productions. 

MARK: Are you planning any more writing projects in the near future?

FRED:  Yes, I'm working on another book about terrorism and have been asked to write a college textbook.   Not sure I have time for the latter, but its humbling to have been asked.    

MARK:Where can readers go to purchase your latest book, CHASING SHADOWS?

FRED:  Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or any private book store. 

MARK: Thanks again for joining us. We wish you well in your effort with Statfor. Stay safe!

Fred Burton is one of the world’s foremost experts on security, terrorists, and terrorist organizations. He was deputy chief of the Counterterrorism Division of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and is currently a vice president at Stratfor, a global intelligence agency known as the “shadow CIA.” He is the author of GHOST: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent and has appeared on The Daily Show, Glenn Beck, Anderson Cooper 360, Fox, ABC, and CBS radio. He has also written for the Los Angeles Times, among others. He lives in Austin, Texas.

John Bruning is a military historian and the coauthor of House To House. He lives in Independence, Oregon.