Cops: 20 Years Caught on Tape
Since the pioneering reality series debuted in 1989, Fox’s Cops has cemented its place in history as one of the longest-running prime-time entertainment programs. The 20th season will be celebrated this Saturday (8 pm/ET, Fox) with a commemorative one-hour special, Cops: 20 Years Caught on Tape. Here are the crimefighting series’ 20 biggest moments, as selected by executive producer John Langley.

When: Season 2 (1990)
Where: Las Vegas
The Take-down: Officer Dennis Magill gets a 911 call about a runaway car. He responds to the call at the Mirage hotel parking lot. A driverless car is circling the parking lot. Magill smashes the car window and subdues the runaway car. He then helps the owner clean out the broken glass.
Bottom Line: Proves you should "expect the unexpected" on Cops.

When: Season 5 (1992)
Where: Philadelphia
The Take-down: Philadelphia officers Hank Glenn and King Harris of the Highway Patrol respond to a shooting call; they encounter a naked, violent man who had tried to break into a shop and was fired on by the owner. The suspect is crazed and babbling and it takes additional officers to subdue him.
Bottom Line: Officers routinely respond to bizarre calls on any given night.

When: Season 11 (1998)
Where: Lee County/Ft. Myers, Florida
The Take-down: Martin County sheriff's deputy Shawn Boorman is featured. Deputy Boorman, a disabled officer who lost his foot in a shooting accident, wears a prosthetic leg. During routine patrol, Deputy Boorman stops a male suspect who tosses a crack pipe into the bushes and flees the scene. Deputy Boorman chases the suspect, scales a fence and immediately tackles the suspect. The suspect is arrested on several charges.
Bottom Line: Where else have you seen a one-legged cop chase down a suspect?

When: Season 12 (1999)
Where: Albuquerque
The Take-down: Albuquerque police officers are flagged down by what initially appears to be a woman in a leopard leotard. It's actually a truck driver in a leotard, apparently the victim of a robbery when a white male suspect reached into the cab of his semi and stole his wallet. The victim, who also has eye shadow and painted toenails, is irate and uncooperative with the officers. Eventually he calms down and changes clothes. A search of the area turns up his wallet with everything but a couple of checks intact. The victim is still angry that the police officer failed to assist him, but the other officers explain that the officer had a suspect in custody and he was not able to leave him unattended.
Bottom Line: Again, expect the unexpected on Cops!

When: Season 9 (1996)
Where: Pierce County, Washington
The Take-down: Pierce County deputy Bob Nilsen comments on how quickly things can change from calm to chaos on any given shift. His words prove prophetic when he receives a call involving a woman threatening suicide outside a nearby apartment complex. Nilsen arrives on the scene to find the distraught woman (white) in a red minivan arguing with a black male who is standing outside the vehicle. When the suspect spots Nilsen, she immediately rams Nilsen's patrol car head-on, after which Nilsen and the other officers leap from their cars and immediately surround her. The woman, extremely agitated, struggles with officers when they try to remove her from the van; during the wrangling she manages to emerge from the van wielding an extremely large butcher's knife. In a flash, Deputy Nilsen tackles the woman from behind and the other deputies swarm to handcuff her. However, when the deputies turn her over on her side they are shocked to realize that the woman impaled herself on the knife during the fall; all that is visible is the black knife handle protruding from her belly. Paramedics are immediately called to the scene and the woman is transported to a local hospital. Astonishingly, the woman escaped serious injury and was released from the hospital several days later.
Bottom Line: This shocking moment happens in real time, emphasizing the danger and wonder of a seemingly routine call.

When: Season 8 (1995)
Where: Dallas
The Take-down: Officer Dave Moran is driving one of several squad cars in pursuit of the driver of a white van. The suspect committed several robberies and is fleeing the officers at extremely high speed. The chase repeatedly goes on and off the freeway; the suspect creates several major accidents in the process. The officers are cautioned to hang back so the suspect won't drive recklessly. Eventually, the suspect has a final accident that disables his van. Moran and Officer John Deangelis move in and force the suspect out. A search of the suspect's van turns up evidence linking him to the robberies.
Bottom Line: Police work is dangerous because criminals are dangerous.

When: Season 9 (1996)
Where: Fresno County, California
The Take-down: Deputy Gray stops a suspect whom he suspects is intoxicated. The suspect, who has forgotten he has a marijuana joint stuck behind his ear, denies he is in possession of any drugs. After Deputy Gray points out the joint, he arrests the suspect and points out that the joint was a dead giveaway.
Bottom Line: A revealing glimpse into the humorous side of law enforcement.

When: Season 12 (1999)
Where: Fort Worth, Texas
The Take-down: Fort Worth police officer Antonio Maldonado II is flagged down by a female "victim" who claims that she gave another woman $20 to buy crack (yes, that's her story) and received two pieces of plaster in return. The alleged suspect, who admits she was formerly a prostitute, steadfastly denies that she took the woman's money and she clearly told the woman that she does not sell drugs. Officer Maldonado, a bit dumbfounded that the "victim" would have the nerve to seek police help in recovering her crack money, issues a trespass warrant and explains to the woman that she will be arrested if she ever returns to the property.
Bottom Line: More head-shaking humor on the illogical logic encountered in Cops.

When: Season 2 (1989)
Where: Portland, Oregon
The Take-down: Sergeant John Bunnell and the Drug Task Force go to a home where marijuana is being cultivated — suspicions arise because of high electricity usage. They enter the vacant house with a search warrant and confiscate plants, guns, growing equipment and a Corvette. Bunnell leaves a message on the suspect's answering machine that the police have his goods and to please call 255-3600.
Bottom Line: Not every call is a "bust," even though this one was.

When: Season 2 (1990)
Where: Las Vegas
The Take-down: Lieutenant Bill Young, officer Tom Monihan and other undercover officers begin briefing on a planned prostitution sting where they will dress up one undercover officer as a "sheik" in order to fool the wary "call girls." They check the surveillance camera in the room as a call is placed for two girls. Suzanna arrives and requests ID from the john to see if he's a cop. Second girl, Sasha, arrives. Price is set for the ladies and then escalates with the addition of people. Ladies are arrested and booked. Nevada law on AIDS/prostitution is explained and blood is drawn from Suzanna. Cop advises her to get out of the business.
Bottom Line: A classic "sting" operation with a very serious side, since hundreds of hookers in Las Vegas are HIV-positive.

When: Season 15 (2002)
Where: New Orleans
The Take-down: A riot breaks out during Mardi Gras as the combination of Snoop Dogg and a balcony full of Girls Gone Wild women create a huge crowd that begins to break through police barriers. Officers are forced to evacuate the streets when trampling becomes an issue.
Bottom Line: An inside look at the "controlled riot" called Mardi Gras.

When: Season 15 (2002)
Where: Riverside County, California
The Take-down: Deputy Roman Pluimer of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department joins a foot pursuit of a suspected child molester who escaped custody. When one of the officers attempts to grab the suspect, the suspect unexpectedly hits the officer in the face (breaking his nose) and bites his arm in an attempt to avoid arrest. Several officers arrive and eventually subdue the rebellious suspect. Deputy Pluimer later learns that the suspect was seen fondling juveniles and attempting to lure them with a $100 bill. Fortunately the officers are able to take another sexual predator off of the streets.
Bottom Line: This is a classic example of "resisting arrest" as an officer battles with a suspect.

When: Season 15 (2002)
Where: Palm Springs
The Take-down: Officer Nelson Figueroa of the Palm Springs Police Department responds to a home-invasion call. The victim of the home-invasion robbery tells a dispatch operator that a man held him at gunpoint, tied him up and then fled in his vehicle. During a routine search of the neighborhood, Officer Figueroa spots the stolen vehicle and gives chase. The dangerous suspect eventually disables the victim's vehicle by crashing into a fire hydrant. He bails out of the vehicle and flees on foot. After jumping a couple of walls, the desperate suspect is found in the backyard of a nearby residence. Officer Figueroa is forced to shoot the suspect in the leg after he points a gun at him. The paramedics arrive and attend to the suspect's injuries while officers continue their investigation. The victim's passport, license and several other items are found in the stolen vehicle.
Bottom Line: This harrowing moment happens on camera, demonstrating the meaning of "justified force" when you shoot to save your own life.

When: Season 19 (2006)
Where: Riverside County, California
The Take-down: A routine traffic stop is abruptly interrupted when a cyclist is hit by a passing vehicle. Deputy Jason Corey of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department quickly contains the scene and calls for assistance. Paramedics arrive within minutes to treat the victim. Meanwhile, Deputy Corey questions the occupants of the vehicle that was involved in the accident. They all insist that they did not see the cyclist before the accident. When the investigation of the accident concludes, Deputy Corey prepares to deal with the driver from the traffic stop who was driving on a suspended license.
Bottom Line: There is no such thing as a "routine" call.

When: Season 5 (1992)
Where: Denver, Colorado
The Take-down: Denver police sergeant Bill Yeros of District One briefs the squad. Officers Phil Hernandez and Mike Mosco are called to an armed robbery (simultaneously, District Four officers carrying Cops crew are en route to the same call). The Four car is broadsided by another police car; after a quick check, District One goes on to assist in the capture of the robber, then returns to the scene, where the cameraman gives a rundown of the accident.
Bottom Line: Our crews are sometimes in as much danger as the police!

When: Season 16 (2003)
Where: Spokane, Washington
The Take-down: Officer Rob Boothe of the Spokane Police and a K-9 unit stop a speeding vehicle following a brief pursuit. When the officers attempt to take the uncooperative 340-pound driver into custody, they are forced to use a taser gun when he resists arrest. The remorseful suspect is charged with resisting arrest, DUI and failure to stop.
Bottom Line: Fox promo calls this one "Tased and Confused" because of the belligerent suspect.

When: Season 4 (1991)
Where: Kansas City, Kansas
The Take-down: Kansas City officer Richard Keith is flagged down by a woman who has tied her husband up with a telephone cord; the obviously intoxicated husband is transported as Keith admires the woman's tying skills.
Bottom Line: How often do you see a husband "hog-tied" by his wife? A classic.

When: Season 7 (1994)
Where: Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri
The Take-down: Officer John Wagner of the Independence, Missouri, police chases a suspect in a car running on three wheels and causing a freeway fireworks display, as the car's undercarriage is dragged along the highway; the car attempts to ram police cars. Several other units join Wagner in pursuit of suspects who are speeding toward the Kansas-Missouri state line. During the course of the chase, the suspect continues to attempt to ram the police vehicle; the suspect's auto is boxed in after crossing the state line and the two suspects are forced, at gunpoint, out of their disabled auto and arrested.
Bottom Line: "Sparkling Pursuit" is the name of this one, which speaks for itself.

When: Pilot (1988)
Where: Broward County, Florida
The Take-down: Deputy Vicki Cutcliff is seen checking suspected drug traffickers at the airport. Cutcliff and the team arrest a young man for possession of cocaine and a stolen handgun, but he struggles and fights and has to be wrestled to the ground.
Bottom Line: Appearances are deceptive with this clean-cut kid who smuggled drugs.

When: Season 1 (1988)
Where: Broward County, Florida
The Take-down: Deputy Linda Canada is on patrol. She answers a domestic violence call and has to deal with a woman whose boyfriend beats her up. The woman's daughter is very attached to Linda and follows her to her squad car. There are some very poignant moments with this little girl.
Bottom Line: This early example from Cops shows the human face of law enforcement, with Deputy Linda Canada trying to help a desperate little girl.

Catch more Cops moments with our Online Video Guide.

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