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Hollywood Police Driving Academy

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Dan: Dispatch, this is Johnson! Not only did I not apprehend the criminals, but I immediately crashed my car!
Arin: I deserve a promotion! Please respond.

What the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy does for marksmanship, this trope does for police driving.

In Real Life, it's largely assumed that most law enforcement personnel are trained professionals in specialised top-quality vehicles when it comes to Car Chases. Their movie, television, video game, etc. counterparts, not so much. In fiction, especially if they're chasing the protagonists, they crash into fruit and/or vegetable carts, get cut off by closing railroad crossings and opening draw bridges, drive their vehicles into ditches or off cliffs, and run into any number of other snafus a real police officer (or anyone with a learner's permit) would know to avoid if at all possible. And the film-writers have apparently never even heard of police helicopters, since there's 'nary a one to be seen; if they have, it often doesn't end well for the helicopter.

See also Car Chase, the supertrope Artistic License Law Enforcement, and the subtrope Lemming Cops, which dials up the idiocy to ridiculous levels. Tends to hang out at the donut shop with Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop and Police Are Useless.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Bookhunter: We only ever see the library police driving when they're in a legitimate hurry to get somewhere—so every time, they're driving fast enough to go airborne on any incline, and barely maintaining control of the vehicle as they screech through turns.
  • Pondus: Pondus and Jocke sit at a pavement café when a car chase passes by. The police car turns around the corner without incident, and the two comment that something is wrong. True to form, the police car drives backwards around the corner, and then turns around the corner again, this time toppling a shack of groceries conveniently placed nearby. Pondus and Jocke comments that this was more like it.
  • In an issue of Sin City, Marv and Dwight lead a squad car right into Old Town where the prostitutes promptly blast the crap out of the car and send the cops scurrying.

  • James Bond encounters many of the academy's fine graduates in the movies where he's in the United States.
  • The ATF agents involved in the opening Chase Scene from the movie Black Dog.
  • The Blues Brothers: The chase in the mall ends with cop cars sticking out from storefronts while Elwood and Jake make a clean getaway, and the climactic chase through downtown Chicago culminates in a pile of over a dozen cars before the cops finally have the sense to stop.
  • Some cops seen chasing the protagonists in the Disney movie Freaky Friday (1976).
  • The Gumball Rally and The Cannonball Run feature a collection of the Academy's finest from all across the USA.
  • Subverted by Officer Tad from 1977's Grand Theft Auto, as he's from Azuza.
  • The Ur-Example, The Keystone Cops - they are incompetent at everything they do, sometimes what they do is drive.
  • In Logorama, police played by Michelin Men show no regard for the M&Ms they run over. Or anyone else, for that matter. Anything to stop Ronald McDonald.
  • Mad Max: Max Rockatansky was a police officer prior to the collapse of civilization. He also was apparently valedictorian of the Australian branch of the academy.
  • Lieutenant Frank Drebin of Police Squad from The Naked Gun must have graduated summa cum laude. His driving is destructive even if he isn't involved in a chase.
  • The 1988 action film Never Say Die features many graduates of the New Zealand branch.
  • The Presidio shows that both the San Francisco Police Department and the United States Army Military Police send their personnel to the Academy for their training.
  • The Trope Maker and founder of the academy, Sheriff Buford T. Justice of Smokey and the Bandit.
    • With the added bonus that the character was named for a Real Life highway patrolman!
      • 'The 'Smokey and the Bandit'' sequels feature some of the Academy's valedictorian graduates— Summa Cum Laude.
  • Every last cop in the Taxi series is an Academy graduate, whether they work in Marseilles or Paris (where they cause a minute-long, Blues Brothers-style mass pile-up of dozens of Peugeots). Nobody knows how Emilien manages to be an even worse driver.
  • Theatre of Blood: The police think they see Lionheart driving by, and immediately scramble into a traffic jam reminiscent of the Keystone Kops.
  • In Unstoppable, near the end, several police cars acting as an escort for Ned end up crashing on a tight turn. Mind you, Ned is in a pickup truck and he made that turn perfectly.
    • That's because that maneuver requires precision. Which is something Ned, as Lead Welder, is quite familiar with.
  • Sheriff Loomis and his men from the 1980s cult classic The Wraith clearly also received their training at the academy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: At the end of "Stolen Aerial", Mr. Conklin neglects to use the brake on his parked car and it ends up rolling downhill. A patrol car travelling in the opposite direction manages to be hit head-on by the driverless vehicle.
  • Sheriff Elroy P. Lobo (B.J. and the Bear, The Misadventures Of Sheriff Lobo) may have preceded Rosco Coltrane as chief instructor, if his own department is any testament.
    • Lampshaded in the Title Sequence of The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo which not only shows clips of various crashes in the series, but ends with Lobo, who's been doing The Slow Walk between his deputies who are waiting by their squad cars, dramatically ordering them to "Move 'em out!", then Face Palming as they all crash into each other.
  • Averted by Ponch and Jon on CHiPs but exaggerated with the rest of the California Highway Patrol and just about everyone else driving the Southern California freeways.
  • Gloriously averted in the Due South episode Heaven and Earth. Two random cops manage to start the car chase by driving backwards (the suspect took off in the opposite direction while they were parked), executing a hairpin turn before taking off after him forwards. The rest of the chase shows that the Chicago PD had to send their officers to the Badass Driver Academy for training instead.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane's pursuits of Bo and Luke Duke usually end with a crashed police car. This has led to the Memetic Mutation of him being a lousy driver; in fact, he was the previous trope namer of this trope, and is considered the academy's chief driving instructor. In the actual show, however, he's not a particularly bad driver; it's just that Bo and Luke are exceptionally good drivers and often manage to taunt him into pursuing them into places where he shouldn't drive.
  • Meldrick Lewis from Homicide: Life on the Street must have been an honor student.
  • From The Sentinel, Jim is infamous for the number of trucks he's wrecked, to the point that it's almost impossible for him to get good insurance. Every Car Chase involves gratuitous Fruit Cart destruction, numerous "orange"-light runs, and any passengers cowering in their seats.
    Blair Sandburg: "Jim, that's a red light. Jim, there are pedestrians in the road! Jim, slow down! Jim!!"

    Video Games 
  • Counter Side: Kang Soyoung is a police officer noted by everyone around her for her reckless driving. She trained as a racer, but left because the track was too constraining. Any time she's called, she arrives very quickly but usually wrecks the car. This is reflected in gameplay by having her slam a car into the enemy each time she's deployed.

    Web Video 
  • FailRace videos featuring games with police vehicle A.I.s will often note whenever those A.I.s attempt ineffectual, odd, suicidal, or simply spectacular maneuvers during chases or even ordinary patrols. These instances of bumbling AI behavior resulted in them collectively being known as the FailRace Police Department whenever they show up.