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Published: 5/10/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Toledo police force gets camera-ready

Fox TV to film officers on duty

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Editor's Note: It's possible this show will not be viewable for some Toledo area residents, as a contract dispute between Buckeye CableSystem and the owner of WUPW-TV, Channel 36 has disrupted broadcasting of the Fox channel for Buckeye Cable customers.

Fox TV film crews will follow Toledo police officers on eight to 10 hour shifts, five days a week, on all shifts for the television show 'COPS.' Fox TV film crews will follow Toledo police officers on eight to 10 hour shifts, five days a week, on all shifts for the television show 'COPS.'
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Bad boys beware — as early as next month, the TV show COPS will hit the streets with Toledo police officers capturing whatever mischief and mayhem the officers respond to.

The long-running program is expected to start eight weeks of filming in early June, said Morgan Langley, the show’s producer.

Two film crews will spend eight to 10 hours a day, five days a week, with officers on all shifts, in all parts of town documenting “as accurately as possible what these officers encounter ... and the true nature of their work,” Mr. Langley said in a telephone interview from his Los Angeles office.

Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan said department officials had a meeting with TV show executives in Toledo to discuss filming the program before giving the green light.

The sergeant said there isn’t much, if any, preparation work the department has to do before the cameras start rolling, but he said the city’s law department did have to sign off to “make sure that what they’re proposing is consistent with what the city wants to do here as far as liability.”

City Law Director Adam Loukx said he does not have any “significant liability concerns. Any time somebody rides along, we get a waiver or a release where appropriate.”

He said there are “common-sensical” things that he hopes wouldn’t be aired, such as the execution of search warrants or the names of people who are not arrested or indicted.

City spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei did not return a call for comment.

“Everything we do is pretty much an open book anyway,” Sergeant Heffernan said, adding that there is some information that has to be kept from the public because of ongoing investigations. “...As far as along the lines of patrol work and street calls, the things officers will encounter, it’s pretty much all on video anyway and all pretty much an open book.”

Mr. Langley said Toledo is one of several locations that film crews will visit this year — the segments will be incorporated into episodes for the next season, which is set to air in September, 2013.

There was no specific reason for coming to Toledo, Mr. Langley said, except that a show producer met a Toledo police official at a convention and, after explaining what the show does, the official suggested they film here.

“We’re actually excited to come to Toledo,” said Mr. Langley, who has never been to the city. “It’s a fairly large city and we haven’t been in Ohio for many years, so it’s exciting for us to get into new cities where we haven’t been.”

Mr. Langley added, “It’s up to the department if they want us to come there. All we can do is provide accurate information about what we do.”

The show, which aired its first episode in March, 1989, is broadcast on Fox and, according to the show’s Web site, has followed officers in 140 different cities — from the large metropolis to small cities — across the country. The show also has taped in Hong Kong, London, and the former Soviet Union.

Much of what the crews capture on video ends up on cutting room floors — sometimes there could be weeks without getting a “story” to use on the show and, sometimes, there could be multiple incidents perfect for television in a single night.

“Because we’re real and we don’t manage or manipulate [what happens], they wait until they record something real for air and that takes time,” Mr. Langley said. “That’s why we’re out there five days a week, eight hours a day.”

Because of the unpredictability of the work, it’s unclear how many episodes Toledo police will be in.

Mr. Langley said all of the film crews go through training before they’re dispatched to departments. All crew members wear bullet-resistant vests as a safety precaution, he said.

“The main thing they’re trained to understand is that the police are in control of the situation,” Mr. Langley said. “We’re a fly on the wall, we’re there to document what they do.”

Whatever is filmed and to be aired on television is first sent to the police department for review, Mr. Langley said. The department has to give final approval before it’s broadcast to ensure that sensitive information or investigative tactics aren’t provided to a national audience, the producer added.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com, 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @tdungjen_Blade.



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