Did Dragnet’s Police Liaison Eventually Take Joe Friday’s Badge as His Own?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: The police liaison to Dragnet ended up taking Lieutenant Joe Friday’s badge number when he made Lieutenant.

Jack Webb’s character, Sergeant Joe Friday, is one of the most popular cops in TV history. But in fact, Friday was around even before the TV series that he starred on, Dragnet, existed.

Webb created (Webb wrote, produced AND starred on the show) the no-nonsense Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detective for radio, where the radio show Dragnet ran from 1949-1956. Webb’s creation, a generally realistic look at crime-solving, was revolutionary in its approach.

A great part of the realism of the show came down to the cooperation with the LAPD, who certainly were not displeased with how impressive Webb made them look on the show.

A little more than two years into the show’s run on radio, Webb took the program to television, where it ran from 1951 to 1959.

The badge used on the show (714) was originally worn by LAPD officer Dan Cooke.

At the end of the show’s run, Friday had been promoted to Lieutenant, with a Lieutenant’s badge number 714, to boot.

Almost a decade later, Dragnet returned to television, this time in color (with Harry Morgan now as Webb’s partner)…
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