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I wished I was one of those private eyes in books; they've all got a friend on the force.
A Friend on the Force
is a regular police officer whom a Private Detective
or Amateur Sleuth
is friendly with that provides assistance to the Private Detective. The Friend on the Force
often acts as the official with the authority to arrest the criminals that the Private Detective
The usefulness of the relationship is sometimes mutual. The friend might ask the private detective to help him with certain shady things that he as an official cannot do, either because he is too high profile and recognisable, or it will break regulations which will get him into trouble with Internal Affairs
Compare to Inspector Lestrade
, which is a detective that is incapable of solving crimes without the help a Great Detective
. Superheroes usually have enough clout to enlist The Commissioner Gordon
A supertrope for Sleuth Dates Cop
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Anime and Manga
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Private detective Eddie Valiant has Lieutenant Santino, who calls him in on the Acme murder and shows up at the end with the rest of the police. (One may come to conclusion that the Valiants and Santino graduated together from Police Academy).
- Rear Window. When LB Jeffries suspects one of his neighbors has murdered his wife, he calls in his old war buddy Doyle, now a police detective, to investigate.
- Shame has two - DEA Agent Rothmiller and Captain Nunez. Rothmiller is a subversion. He's really working with Mendoza, the Big Bad.
- Inspector Tobias Gregson for Sherlock Holmes, with whom he is more friendly, and who is the counterpart of Inspector Lestrade. Hopkins probably counts as well, though he is more of a Protegé on the Force.
- The Dresden Files has Lieutenant Murphy. Because of the nature of the world she rarely gets to make any arrests on cases he's involved in, but the cases still get closed... one way or another.
- Ellery Queen helps his father, the chief of police. One wonders why they even have police detectives when Ellery can (and does) solve all the cases.
- Nero Wolfe's relations with Inspector Cramer are more cordial than friendly. Sergeant Purley Stebbins, though, has been known to spend the evenings playing cards with Archie Goodwin and the boys.
- Hercule Poirot has Inspector Japp.
- The Maltese Falcon: Sam Spade is friends with detective Tom Polhaus. His relationship with Lieutenant Dundy is much more antagonistic.
- Lord Peter Wimsey has Inspector Charles Parker, who later becomes his brother-in-law.
- In the Coruscant Nights Trilogy, the hero Jax Pavan, who "finds things" and has a rather complicated, never defined job that does involve investigation, has a slightly antagonistic but ultimately friendly relationship with Pol Haus, a police prefect on Coruscant. Of course, there's never anyone to lock up, since Pavan's enemies strongly tend to be Dark Jedi who vanish, Inquisitors working with the Empire, and Darth Vader. Mostly Haus and Pavan just meet to trade information. Haus suspects that Pavan is a Jedi, but ultimately bails him out.
- In George C. Chesbro's In the House of Secret Enemies, Detective/Criminologist Dr. Robert Frederickson (Mongo to people who knew him from the circus) has a big brother, Garth, on the New York City Police Force. A much bigger brother.
- John le Carré's George Smiley has Inspector Mendel, whether nearly retired or fully retired.
- McGowan from the Andrew Vachss Burke books, at least until he retires. The quote comes from a book that occurs after his retirement, so Burke cannot count on his help any more.
- In the Hardy Boys books, Bayport Police chief Ezra Collig is an old friend of Fenton Hardy, though he makes few arrests himself. In a lot of books, one-off cops are typically the ones who actually arrest the criminals.
- On the East Coast, Mike Hammer is friends with Captain Pat Chambers, NYPD.
- On the West Coast, Shell Scott is friends with Captain Phil Samson, LAPD.
- Philip Marlowe from the novels by Raymond Chandler has Bernie Ohls, chief investigator for the DA's office.
- Benjamin January has Lieutenant Shaw.
- Phryne Fisher has Detective Inspector John "Call me Jack" Robinson.
- Marid Audran has Lt. Okking. Okking generally tolerates Audran, and sends cases his way when the police don't want to be bothered, but there might be enough money to interest Audran. Audran hates cops, but tolerates Okking, and calls him by preference when something turns up that requires a police presence.
- Stephanie Plum has Eddie Gazarra, her childhood friend and cousin-in-law, who she frequently goes to for information when she's not on speaking terms with Morelli. She's also friendly with Carl Costanza, although he isn't quite as much help.
- The Bourne Series turns the Big Bad of The Bourne Identity into Bourne's helper in the next two books, Supremacy and Ultimatum. It's Alexander Conklin.
- Geoph Essex seems to toy with this trope without ever playing it totally straight. In Lovely Assistant, Jenny has Detective Monaghan, who is originally the Columbo-like cop questioning her about all the weird stuff going on, but turns out to be a useful guy to know. In Jackrabbit Messiah, Lieutenant Springer seems to start out as Amity's (and Jack's) Friend on the Force, but kind of cuts the cord as she heads off on the big adventure with them.
- The Great Merlini: Merlini and Inspector Gavigan were friends before the first novel started.
- Philo Vance has two. John Markham (technically District Attorney, not a policeman) brought Vance in for the earliest novels because the two had a long-standing friendship. A couple novels in to the series, Sergeant Heath (NYPD Homicide Division) has warmed to Vance enough to count as well.
- Mick Oberon has Pete, the werewolf cop. Mick lets him into Elphame during the full moon so he won't hurt anyone.
Live Action TV
- Angel had Kate Lockley for the first two seasons.
- Lampshaded at one point in season 3. Pressed on where he got some info, Angel reveals that he hired a detective agency with some friends on the force. The rest of the team bemoans how pathetic that looks for their own detective agency, don't they have their own friends or something? Angel agrees it's not ideal, but reminds them that Kate got canned (mainly as a result of her association with Angel Investigations cluing her in on The Masquerade, and how bonkers she sounds to other cops as a result).
- Diagnosis: Murder: Dr. Sloan's son is a homicide detective. A relative on the force.
- Magnum has Lt Tanaka. He also knows an (inevitably pretty) lawyer at the District Attorney's office and several contacts at the naval base.
- In the Marcus Didius Falco series, Falco's best friend, Petronius, is a member of the Vigiles.
- Monk: Lieutenant Disher and Captain Stottlemeyer.
- Psych: Carlton Lassiter and Juliet O'Hara. Although Lassiter at least is less a 'friend' and more 'somewhat reluctant and slightly resentful ally'.
- Shawn's dad Henry, being a former cop until Season 5, had all kinds of friends on the force, through which he would track Shawn's case and sometimes provide useful leads/background information. Now that he's back on the force as the SBPD external liaison, these don't come into play as often.
- Spenser has several police contacts.
- Rick and A.J. Simon have "Downtown" Brown, a plain-clothes/undercover cop.
- Jim Rockford is friends with Sergeant Dennis Becker.
- Toby from The Listener has Detective Charlie Marks, though she's often inclined not to listen when he comes to her with evidence and can't explain how he got it because he found out by reading minds. Of course this changes once she finds out.
- Torchwood has PC Andy.
- This trope + UST = Castle.
- Leverage has FBI agents Taggart and McSweeten and Massachusetts State Police Detective Captain Patrick Bonano.
- Campion: Albert Campion has Detective Inspector Oates, a competent cop who often takes Albert's arrests and investigations.
- Due South: Ray performs this function for Benton who has no jurisdiction in Chicago.
- Tracker had Mel's on again-off again boyfriend Detective Vic Bruno. She makes use of him a few times during the series. (Trust,A Made Guy)
- The BBC Sherlock version of Lestrade is much closer to this than the trope he named. He's also the only friend Sherlock has on the force, as every other police officer he knows would rather Lestrade not keep involving this weirdo who keeps human eyes in his microwave ( which leaves him powerless when Moriarty's manipulations convince the entire police service Sherlock's a fraud).
- Mr. Lucky has Lieutenant Rovacs, though Rovacs isn't always happy about the arrangement.
- Elementary has Tobias Gregson with the exception that Gregson in this version is a captain in the NYPD instead of a Scotland Yard inspector (Gregson does mention his temporary assignment to Scotland Yard post-9/11, where he met Holmes). Gregson tends to trust Holmes, as long as the latter has at least a hint of evidence to back up his claims and will often trust Holmes over his own detectives. The one time he got pissed off at Holmes was when the latter started questioning Gregson's star-making arrest and accusing him of planting evidence. Gregson is visible straining himself to avoid decking Sherlock. It turns out it was Gregson's then-partner who planted the evidence, but the guy was still guilty.
- Also, Gregson is revealed to have known from the start that Sherlock is a recovering drug addict but has kept it quiet, figuring Sherlock would tell him when he was ready. The reaction on Sherlock's face when Gregson asks "Do you think I'm an idiot?" is priceless (not of mockery but of shame).
- Averted in Moonlight. When asked by Beth why a private investigator like him doesn't have this trope, Mick points out that, being a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire is tough enough without a cop who knows him constantly noticing odd things about him (like the fact that Mick doesn't age or stays in the shadows). A flashback reveals that Mick had a cop friend ten years ago, who has now retired and lost sight. This is the only reason Mick still occasionally visits him. Beth herself, being a Hot Scoop, has her boyfriend working in the DA's office and then an assistant DA after her boyfriend is killed.
- Blood Ties has Mike Celluci, Vicki's ex-partner and ex-boyfriend. Now that Vicki has left the force and has become a PI, she often crosses paths with Mike. She has to hide a few things from him at first, like the fact that Henry is a vampire and that many of her cases involve the supernatural, but eventually he figures it out and it becomes his turn to hide that from his superiors and colleagues. Eventually, this ends up getting him suspended, although the show was cancelled before we got to see the resolution.
- Vega$ had Lt. Dave Nelson played by Greg Morris of Mission: Impossible fame.
- Matt Houston had Lt. Novelli in the first season and Lt. Hoyt for the rest of the series.
- Arrow: Despite starting out hating him, Detective Lance eventually comes to see the Arrow as the hero that Starling City needs, and by Season 2 is now this trope.
- Gabriel Knight isn't a detective, but he does do some sleuthing with the help of his good friend Detective Mosely. He also uses Mosely to get information for his novels.
- Tex Murphy has Mac Malden.
- Lewton, the Private Detective in the Discworld Noir computer game, has Nobby Nobbs as his buddy on the force. Which only really goes as far as Nobby giving him several useful pieces of gossip and convincing Vimes to arrest Carlotta at the end.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has Detective Gumshoe, who starts out as an annoyance but later becomes essentially a friend to Phoenix (while remaining an annoyance). He even helps Phoenix a bit on the sly in the second and third games, despite technically being on "the other side".
- Gumshoe serves this purpose in a more formal capacity in Ace Attorney Investigations, since he's Edgeworth's partner. Likewise, Detective Badd was the partner to Prosecutor Faraday in more ways than one. No, not that way. A different way.
- The first game has some notable instances where Gumshoe helps out, usually when its Edgeworth's wellbeing on the line. In Case 1-4, Gumeshoe goes out of his way to help Phoenix as much as he can in relation to the Gordon Lake shootings, because Edgeworth is the one on trial and Gumshoe really wants to get the guy off the hook. In Case 1-5, Gumshoe agrees to let Phoenix into Damon Gant's office after finding out that Edgeworth is seriously considering retiring over how badly this case has gone. This helps Phoenix get the decisive evidence for the case, even though poor Gumshoe gets fired over it.
- Inverted towards the end of L.A. Noire, where Jack Kelso plays the part of Cole Phelps' friend off the force, as an investigator for California Fire and Life.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Adam Jensen has two friends on the force, one who you can get a favour from and accidentally get fired (although if you convinced him to do the favour you can get him a job at the company you work for...if you extorted the favour he'll just try to kill you) and the the other he does a favour for.
- Armando Bailey is this for Shepard. Given that Shepard is effectively investigator, judge, jury, and executioner if necessary s/he doesn't need Bailey to get things done per se, but s/he will turn to Bailey for information.
- In Mass Effect 3, Jondum Bau acts as one amongst the Spectres that Shepard belongs to. He admits that unlike the Council, the other Spectres saw the evidence and took the warnings about the Reapers very seriously, so they've been secretly getting prepared for the invasion ever since Shepard first discovered the threat back in the first game.
- In the first Streets of Rage, you play as one of three ex-cops. When the A button is pressed, you call in a friend still working in the precinct to deliver either a napalm strike or rain down gatling fire, taking out all enemies or hurting all bosses on the screen.
- Persona 4 has Adachi, who helps out the protagonists a few times (capturing Rise's stalker, giving hints about the investigation to the protagonist, etc); Persona 4: Golden even adds a social link for him. Oh, and he happens to be the guy who carried out the first two murders, framed the first suspect (actually a copycat who only killed one victim) and tricked the second suspect into nearly doing more (by letting him think shoving them into the TV World would keep them safe - had the Investigation Team not rescued them...). The protagonist's uncle (and Adachi's boss) has hints of this, but mostly tries to keep him from interfering with the investigation.
- Persona 3 has a police officer providing weapons to the main cast.
- Pokémon arguably has one in the form of Looker, an agent of the International Police (and apparently their only effective member). He appears first in Platinum, where he makes the arrests after you've cleared the path. He returns in Black & White, where he enlists your help in finding the Seven Sages so he can arrest them. His latest appearance is in X & Y, where he is sent to Kalos to arrest Dr. Xerosic.
- In the Dragon Age series:
- In Dragon Age: Origins, Sergeant Kylon of the Denerim Guard serves as this for the Warden, joking that even if he believed the official line that the Wardens killed King Cailain at Ostagar, he's not stupid or suicidal enough to try to attack them.
- In Dragon Age II, Aveline Vallen is this for Hawke's company, as a member and later Captain of the Kirkwall Guard. She often comes to Hawke with independent work that would stretch the guard's numbers too thin, stops patrols venturing too near the mansion where Fenris is squatting, but doesn't shy away from arresting Isabela for starting bar brawls.
- The SWAT Kats have Felina Feral, the one Enforcer who is willing to work with them, despite her uncle (who happens to be head of the Enforcers) being their sworn enemy.