The popular television show “Cops” will be filming city police officers in action for 10 weeks during the summer raising concerns about the city being portrayed in a negative light.
“They choose cities with high crime statistics because that’s how their ratings go up,” said Alex Mendez, councilman at-large. He said the show intentionally pick cities with drug and other social problems to film.
Mendez said the show wouldn’t film in Clifton or Wayne.
“You think Green Bay has high crime? They are filming in Green Bay right now,” responded police director Jerry Speziale.
Speziale said the television show will begin riding along with police officers beginning in late July.
“We want to be able to show case, nationally, our safe city initiative,” said Speziale. He said the city will be able to review footage before it airs on television.
Michael Jackson, 1st Ward councilman, also worried about residents being portrayed in a negative light. He said the camera might capture someone without their dentures. He suggested steering the cameras towards presentable venues in the city like the Great Falls.
“That’s not going to make the cut,” remarked council president William McKoy at Jackson’s suggestion.
Speziale said the show has been filming in towns across America for 30 years. He said the show filmed in Paterson when he was Passaic County sheriff more than a decade ago.
“It’s a morale boost for our police officers,” Speziale told council members. He told council members the show has a $1 million per incident insurance coverage to protect against any incidents that may arise during filming.
Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, said he worried about the way the city would be depicted in the show, but thought the show could deliver a message of deterrence against criminals looking to visit the city.
“It sends a message to would be criminal that our police force is on top of it. They are well trained and if you do something wrong this how we’re going to get you. That message gets to criminals maybe they will decide to go somewhere else,” said Morris. “You can say you are actually safer by coming here because we have this well trained police force.”
Council members will vote on whether to allow maker of the show to film in the city during their regular meeting next Tuesday.