COPS is broadcast by SPIKE (with repeats from earlier seasons syndicated to other networks, including truTV (formerly CourtTV) and G4.
One of the first (and only) true unscripted reality shows, it follows the activities of police officers by embedding camera crews with police units. The show's formula follows the Cinéma vérité convention, with no narration or scripted dialog, depending entirely on the commentary of the officers and on the actions of the people with whom they come into contact.
The show has followed officers in 140 different cities in the United States, and also has been shot in Hong Kong, London, and the former Soviet Union. Each episode is approximately 22 minutes in length, and typically consists of three segments, with each segment being one or two self-contained police incidents.
The show is well known for its theme song, "Bad Boys," performed by reggae group Inner Circle.