Santa Fe New Mexican

Reality shows about cops fall short


Ididn’t shed any tears late last month when a city spokeswoma­n told my colleague Daniel J. Chacón that the Santa Fe Polic e Department no longer would participat­e in the A&E cable TV network’s reality show Live PD.

“Insurance costs” were the reason given. Not the best reason to cancel, but I’ll take it.

This news came just a couple of weeks after I finished listening to Running from Cops, a six-part podcast by Dan Taberski, who in recent years has done other podcast series, including Missing Richard Simmons and Surviving Y2K.

Running from Cops mostly deals with the precursor of Live PD and the grandfathe­r of all reality TV, Cops, which premiered in 1989. Taberski and his crew watched and analyzed more than 800 episodes of Cops and conducted more than 100 interviews. But Taberski’s podcast also includes a look at Live PD, which some have described as“Cops on steroids.” It’s “live” (actually running on an unspecifie­d delay) and has color commentary from host Dan Abrams and others. (It also lacks Cops’ cool reggae theme song, “Bad Boys.”) The problem with Cops and its clones is that it gives a distorted view of poor neighborho­ods. Watching these shows, you’d think that 90 percent of people living in these neighborho­ods are drug pushers, prostitute­s and/or maniacs. There has been a lot of criticism that black people come off looking bad on such programs. However, the white people on Cops etc. — at least those not in uniform — are overrepres­ented by shirtless meth heads and screaming hillbillie­s. Fast Company, a publicatio­n Mayor Alan Webber founded, noted in its review of the podcast: “Taberski and the producers also found that while prostituti­on, drugs, and violence make up 58 percent of crime depicted on Cops, according to the FBI, those three categories only account for barely 17 percent of crime. …” How does this not have the effect of making viewers more paranoid? As Taberski said in the podcast, it makes the world seem like a zombie movie where the “only thing between them and us is the thin blue line.” Nearly 20 years ago, Albuquerqu­e Mayor Marty Chávez decided to no longer allow his police department to participat­e in Cops. And he didn’t even use “insurance” as an excuse. “The city’s police officers are portrayed in a good light [on Cops], but the rest of the city looks horrible,” Chávez told the Albuquerqu­e Journal. “That has a real impact. That’s all people see, and that’s not who we are.” Getting rid of Cops hardly solved Albuquerqu­e’s image problems — much less all the problems with the Albuquerqu­e Police Department. And dropping Live PD probably won’t have a major effect on law enforcemen­t in Santa Fe.

 ??  ?? Steve Terrell Roundhouse Roundup
Steve Terrell Roundhouse Roundup

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States