Thursday, June 3, 2004

'Cops' cameras roll in Covington

Taping starts on show within hours after producers, city meet

By Travis Gettys
Enquirer contributor

COVINGTON - Criminals in Northern Kentucky's largest city could become extras on one of television's first reality shows, but instead of winning money or finding a spouse, they'll still end up behind bars.

Film crews from the Fox TV show Cops began shooting footage of police officers at work Wednesday afternoon, less than a week after production was shut down in Cincinnati.

Covington, along with Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and Norwood police, gave the show's producers permission to follow officers on their daily patrols after Cincinnati withdrew its invitation May 27, scrapping two days' work.

Three Cincinnati City Council members objected to the taping, saying it would place the city in a negative light, but Covington officials jumped at the chance for national exposure.

On Wednesday, Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher re-invited the television show after six of the nine members on City Council sent him a memo that said they wanted the decision to be his and the administration's. The show is expected to resume taping in Cincinnati in late summer.

Mayor Butch Callery invited producers of the show to tape in the Northern Kentucky city of 43,000 after Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher halted production last week.

The two sides wasted no time putting together an agreement.

"They called (Tuesday) and wanted to know what the chances were of coming here to do some filming," said Covington Police Chief Tom Schonecker. "I said, 'How about 100 percent?' "

City officials met Wednesday afternoon with the show's executive producer, John Langley, to finalize details on the shooting schedule. Within hours, a film crew began taping an officer patrolling downtown.

Langley, the creator of Cops, said he regretted the negative attention generated by the show in Cincinnati, something that has never occurred during its 15-year run.

The show, which has filmed officers in 140 cities and several European countries, is known for its gritty depiction of police work, and that's why Covington officials welcomed film crews.

"A lot of citizens don't realize what goes on at 3 and 4 in the morning on a daily basis," Schonecker said.

Cops is also known for its colorful cast of non-uniformed extras, but Schonecker isn't worried that citizens interacting with officers will give the city a black eye.

"They might be an embarrassment to themselves, but they don't work for the city," he said.

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