Chicago Police Department in popular culture

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The Chicago Police Department, also known as the CPD, is the principal law enforcement agency of Chicago, Illinois, in the United States.

  • In the 1948 film Call Northside 777, James Stewart played the role of a skeptical newspaper reporter, who initially did not believe the story from a cleaning woman that her son, young Frank Wiechek was innocent in the case of murdering a Chicago policeman. The film is based on the true story of a 1932 crime.
  • In Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 North by Northwest, the Chicago Police arrest the protagonist, Roger Thornhill, only to later have to release him.
  • The 1957–1960 television series M Squad centered on a squad of Chicago Police detectives. The episode "The Jumper" featured an officer taking bribes. It was reportedly this depiction that prompted then-Mayor Richard J. Daley to thereafter discourage motion picture and television location filming in the city for the rest of his administration and its aftermath. John Landis' highly successful 1980 musical comedy motion picture The Blues Brothers (see more below), marked the reversal of that policy by Mayor Jane Byrne.
  • The 1964 Rat Pack musical, Robin and the 7 Hoods, depicts the laying of the laying of the cornerstone of the new Chicago Police headquarters in the 1930s. In the film, the corpse of the [fictional] Cook County Sheriff had been disposed of by his killers by secretly entombing him within the cornerstone.
  • Two notable exceptions to Daley's ban were made in for films released in 1975. In Brannigan, John Wayne portrays Chicago Police Lieutenant Jim Brannigan. Although the bulk of the motion picture was set and filmed in London, the opening credit sequence and first few scenes were filmed on location in Chicago and showed Chicago Police vehicles, officers and facilities. This was despite the depictions of Brannigan's warrantless entry and illegally abusive interrogation techniques.
  • 1975's Cooley High (set in 1964) was filmed entirely in Chicago and features a car chase through Navy Pier's then-extant warehouse buildings, in which the pursuing Chicago police are repeatedly outmaneuvered by the joyriding teens, who thus escape.
  • The Chicago Police Department and Illinois State Police are featured in the climactic car chase in 1980's The Blues Brothers in which a Chicago Police dispatcher matter-of-factly advises responding officers that, "The use of unnecessary violence in the apprehension of the Blues brothers has been approved." Reportedly in response to their portrayal in The Blues Brothers, the Chicago Police Department banned the use of the "Chicago Police" name and insignia in films until the early 2000s, resulting in several films and television shows replacing "Chicago Police" with "Metro Police" and other faux names, even if the films received technical assistance from the department, such as The Fugitive and The Negotiator.
  • The television series Hill Street Blues (1981–1987) never explicitly stated the name of the city in which it was set, although many exterior views (lacking the principal actors) were filmed in the city and used for establishing and transition shots. The livery and markings of the police cars were nearly identical to Chicago's at the time, although they used the false "Metro Police" text on the doors and the United States flag on the quarter pannels vice "Chicago Police" and the Chicago flag, respectively. The cars were equipped with red bar lights, presumably to distinguish them from actual Chicago police cars that are equipped with blue lights. The exterior establishing shots of the precinct house, including the main title card's view of a police car exiting the building's garage, were filmed at the old Maxwell Street police station. See the main article for expanded discussion on the setting.
  • Chicago Police detectives; portrayed by Gerald Castillo, Dick Anthony Williams, and Rick Cluchey; hunt a serial killer in the 1983 Pam Dawber / David Soul telefilm, Through Naked Eyes.
  • A Chicago Police officer was a regular character on the 1984–1985 series, E/R. Recorded entirely on-stage in Los Angeles, E/R’s dressers and actor Bruce A. Young (who was also one of the writers of the original stage production in Chicago) were unaffected by the department's ban on the use of "Chicago Police" insignia. Young wore a standard-issue shoulder-sleeve patch, Sillitoe Tartan cap band, and other accurate insignia as Off. Fred Burdock.
  • Many of the same off-duty and retired Chicago Police officers (among other common Chicago-based actors) were cast as police officers in both 1985's Code of Silence starring Chuck Norris as detective Eddie Cusack, and 1988's Above the Law starring Steven Seagal as Detective Nico Toscani. Among those was Sgt. Joseph Kosala, who subsequently appeared as a Chicago police officer in The Fugitive (see below), as well as in Chain Reaction and on an episode of Early Edition.
  • Former real-life Chicago Police officer, Dennis Farina, who had appeared as Detective Dorado in Code of Silence and as an unnamed uniformed officer in Through Naked Eyes, portrayed Chicago Police Lieutenant Mike Torello in the 1986–1988 television series, Crime Story. Set in the early 1960s, most of the first season depicts Chicago until Torello and his team are seconded to the U.S. Justice Department to pursue Chicago-raised gangsters in Las Vegas.
  • Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal portray Chicago Police detectives in the 1986 film Running Scared.
  • In the 1987 film The Untouchables, set in Prohibition-era Chicago, Eliot Ness, played by Kevin Costner, recruits a veteran Chicago Police officer (Sean Connery) and a sharpshooting police trainee (Andy Garcia).
  • James Belushi portrayed Det. Sgt. Art Ridzik, a CPD detective, in the 1988 action film Red Heat.
  • Robert De Niro portrays a former Chicago police officer turned bounty hunter in the 1988 film Midnight Run. Numerous references are made to the CPD as well as corruption within the department. There are also a number of scenes directly involving the CPD.
  • The 1989 film National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation has Chicago police show up near the end, just like in Hill Street Blues "Chicago" is replaced with "Metro" on the livery, however the words "Metro Police" are moved to the rear doors and the Seal Of Illinois is placed on the front doors.
  • John Candy and James Belushi portrayed Officers Danny Muldoon and Salvatore Buonarte, respectively, in the 1991 comedy Only the Lonely.
  • The patriarch of the television series Family Matters (1989–1998), portrayed by Reginald VelJohnson, was a Chicago Police officer, achieving the rank of Captain.
  • In the 1991–1993 series, Reasonable Doubts, Mark Harmon portrayed Chicago Police Det. Dicky Cobb, detailed to the office of the Cook County State's Attorney (referred to as "district attorney" in the series).
  • Robert De Niro and David Caruso portray CPD detectives in the 1993 film Mad Dog and Glory.
  • The Chicago Police Department played a major role in 1993's The Fugitive, showing them in a semi-brutal fashion after Harrison Ford's character is incorrectly believed to have killed an on-duty police officer. The use of actual Chicago Police Department vehicles and uniforms is extensive and can be see throughout the film.
  • The television series Due South (1994–1999) followed the adventures of Benton Fraser, a member of Royal Canadian Mounted Police who is partnered with Ray Vecchio, a detective of the Chicago Police Department.
  • The Chicago Police Department are used, and play a major role, in both the manga and three episode Anime OVA Gunsmith Cats. The character Roy Coleman is a detective with the Chicago Police Department who serves as Rally and May's main contact with the force. Several scenes in the manga, as well as the first part of the third episode of the OVA "High Speed Edge" take place at the Police Department's headquarters. The Police Department is also credited with the assistance of production of the OVA along with the Cook County Sheriff's Department.
  • In the 1998 film The Negotiator, the Chicago Police played a major role within the film. The real Chicago Police Department provided technical support for the movie's SWAT teams. The actors' shoulder sleeve insignia were similar to the Chicago Police Department's octagonal patches, albeit with "Chicago" replaced with "Metropolitan".
  • The Chicago Police Department is used in 2000 film The Watcher, starring Keanu Reeves as a serial killer and James Spader as a retired FBI agent.
  • The Chicago Police Department is used in 2001's Angel Eyes wherein a Chicago cop, played by Jennifer Lopez, had struggles with someone whom she saved from a fire and her mother and father renewing their vows. Her partner was portrayed by Terrence Howard.
  • The Chicago Police Department was used in the 2002 film, John Q, during the climatic hostage situation.
  • In the movie, I, Robot, Detective Spooner works for a future version of the Chicago Police Department.
  • In the 2006 South Park episode A Million Little Fibers, an officer of the Chicago Police was gunned down by Oprah Winfrey's vagina. This appearance was notable only because the uniform of the police officers and the livery of the police cars were fairly accurate to those of the department.
  • CPD officers and vehicles were represented in "The Things About Heroes" episode of CSI: NY which originally aired on November 28, 2007.
  • Chicago police officers are routinely depicted on the television series, ER.
  • In Jim Butcher’s contemporary fantasy series of novels The Dresden Files, the CPD's Lieutenant Karrin Murphy becomes a friend and ally of wizard Harry Dresden. She is demoted to sergeant after the events of Proven Guilty. In The Dresden Files (TV series), Valerie Cruz played Lieutenant Connie Murphy.
  • In the 2008 movie Eagle Eye, Chicago Police Officers and police cars were used during the first chase scene.
  • Members of Chicago Police Department served as extras with the cast members on The Dark Knight as members of Gotham PD officers. Some of the officers performed Balmoral during the shooting of the funeral of Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb [1]
  • The 2010 situation comedy, Mike & Molly stars Billy Gardell as Officer Mike Biggs, and co-stars Reno Wilson as his partner, Officer Carl McMillan. Their uniforms closely match their real-world counterparts, albeit with the "Chicago - Police" wording on the octagonal shoulder sleeve insignia replaced by "Police - Department" and the omission of a lower (assignment) portion on their name tags.
  • The Chicago police are portrayed in the 2011 Fox Network series The Chicago Code. Unlike most depictions of Chicago police, the actors' uniforms and insignia appear to be identical to their real-world counterparts, despite the series being filmed on-location in the city.
  • The 2011 Lifetime drama series, Against the Wall stars Rachael Carpani as Detective Abby Kowalski, a member of the CPD's Internal Affairs division.
  • In 2013, Indian Bollywood movie Dhoom 3 was set in Chicago, and featured the Chicago Police Department.
  • The Terra Nova character Jim Shannon said he was a detective with the department's narcotics squad.
  • The Hawaii Five-0 character Lou Grover is a Chicago native, as is the actor who portrays him Chi McBride. Grover was a former SWAT officer in the CPD before he relocated to Hawaii and joins the Honolulu Police Department.
  • Chicago P.D. is the second of the Chicago trilogy of television series portraying the fire, police and emergency medical services in the city of Chicago. All three shows are filmed on location. Off-duty CPD officers serve as extras and technical consultants on Chicago P.D..


  1. ^ The Dark Knight End Credits