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A Police Procedural is concerned with an accurate representation of the day to day realities and procedures of the police. It's a very specific sub-genre of crime fiction. The Police Procedural is almost the antithesis of the Cop Show. The Police Procedural is characterized by the lack of emphasis on the character's personal lives and the increased focus on the nuts-and-bolts of law enforcement.

This term is also sometimes used specifically to describe the "Reverse Whodunnit" style of crime drama made famous by Columbo, despite the fact that most examples have very little to do with actual police procedure.

Both the Police Procedural and the Cop Show are sometimes called "Precinct Shows".

See also: Crime-Time TV, Forensic Drama, Buddy Cop Show, Cop Show.


  • As for Literature, Ed McBain's Eighty Seventh Precinct novels.
  • In England, Maurice Procter's "Granchester" novels featuring Detective Inspector Harry Martineau and the "Granchester" police force.
  • Another comic book, Gotham Central, follows the Major Case Squad of the Gotham City Police Department as they deal with crimes and the villians that plague the city.
  • The second half of Akira Kurosawa's High and Low, based on Ed McBain's 87th Precinct novel, King's Ransom.
  • The game LA Noire plays out like this, with the player actively engaging in police work like collecting evidence and interrogating suspects.
  • Fritz Lang's M and its sort-of sequel Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse are some of the earliest cinematic examples, starring Otto Wernicke as Kommissar Lohmann of the Berlin police.
  • Paradigm Shift is about this. And werewolves.
  • Patlabor is a Mecha Show Police Procedural, set Twenty Minutes Into the Future.
  • Phoenix is an Australian example, and the mainly Law Procedural spin-off Janus.
  • Police Quest
  • The comic book Top Ten is a Super Hero Police Procedural.
  • The film White Heat, despite being known mainly for James Cagney's manic performance ("Made it, Ma! Top of the world!") is actually this, with details on how undercover police go about gaining the trust of a villain, and details on how a vehicle tail is conducted.