In the 80's TV show Miami Vice, the main protagonists took all types of cases - drug dealing, murders and even protecting celebrities. But isn't there a separate police department that deals with murders (as shown in Dexter TV series)? And isn't it DEA who deals with drugs (as shown in Breaking Bad)? There was even an episode where Tubbs and Crockett went to Colombia to disarm the cartel. Isn't it CIA's job?

I don't know about the 80s, but in Dexter (2007) it is shown that vice department deals mostly with prostitution - as Debra was an undercover prostitute. Did the vice department really have so many competences in the 80s?

1 Answer 1


Real vice departments deal with vice related crimes. Those are primarily drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc. Almost every crime in the US is under the jurisdiction of more than one enforcement agency, so yes the DEA enforces drug laws, but so does pretty much every other law enforcement agency in the US, federal, state, and local.

The big grey area is murder, especially when the murder is committed in the context of illegal drug activity. Suppose two rival gangs of drug dealers have a fight and some people are killed. Well it could be that vice investigates because of the drug connection. Or major crimes/robbery homicide because it’s murder. Or there might be a gangs task force. Or all three might investigate along with the DEA and the FBI and the state police. It really depends and each crime may be handled separately.

The overall point is that crime focus in a police department isn’t necessarily exclusionary. Just because the robbery department (for example) specializes in robbery doesn’t mean they are never tasked with investigating any other crime, or more likely assisting in a related investigation.

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