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Thursday, May 27, 2004
Problems with "Cops"

Cincinnati City Council, and specifically Alicia Reece are upset with Police Chief Tom Streicher's decision to allow the television show "Cops" to ride along with police and tape for the show.

Letting the program showcase Cincinnati's crime problems while the city grapples with improving strained police-community relations -- as well as try to attract more business and conventions in wake of a boycott by local civil rights groups -- is counter-productive, Reece and others said.

"While we're working on these issues internally, I don't see the advantage of bringing 'Cops' in to see people getting shot, to see people getting arrested," Reece said. "Is this the image we want for Cincinnati?"
"What in the world were we thinking bringing 'Cops' to Cincinnati when we've certainly had our share of negative press?" the vice mayor asked. "I am appalled. I am upset about it."

--The Cincinnati Post

Yes, the Cincinnati Police have had more than their share of bad press. Maybe it's time to get some positive press. "Cops" isn't a pro-criminal show. They don't make their money exposing problems with police departments. They make their living following police around. I imagine they'll sensationalize things a bit, the chases make for good TV, but if they start making bad stuff up about the people they follow around every day then they're going to have trouble getting permission to follow police around in the future.

The only time the Cincinnati police get any publicity is when some criminal is accusing them of being racists. It'll be nice having someone show what they go through every day. If they pull up to a Nathaniel Jones while the crews are here there'll be somebody taping everything from start to finish. There'll be no missing 90 seconds. No cries of "the police provoked him before they turned the cameras on!" Unless you actually think that the police ARE racists and routinely victimize blacks I'm not sure how you can say this would be a bad thing.

Councilman Christopher Smitherman:

"People are trying to work, we're trying to have racial reconciliation and rebuild Cincinnati, and now we have the 'Cops' program coming to town and hog-tying African-American men on TV."

I don't know what to make of that. Firstly I doubt that the film crew will be personally doing much African-American man hog-tying. Secondly I doubt that the Police will be doing much African-American man hog-tying. Thirdly I think Smitherman is either confusing hand-cuffing a criminal in the process of restraining him with "hog-tying African-American men" or using provocative language to appease the black community and either way I find it rather sad.

David Pepper at least takes a sensible approach to having qualms about the issue.

"My hope is our police will look and be professional, like I know them to be, and impress the country," said Council Member David Pepper. "There is an unnecessary risk here. We don't control how they edit the footage. I'm confident about our officers, not the show."

From their quotes I'm not seeing that same confidence in the officers from Council Members like Reece and Smitherman.

Posted by Rob Bernard on Thursday, May 27, 2004 at 9:35 AM in Cincinnati

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