FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Fans of television crime shows will get an opportunity to see Fort Wayne’s finest in action on the popular TV show COPS, aired on Fox Nation.
It was “a wrap” this week after two COPS crews followed Fort Wayne officers around the city, Sgt. Jeremy Webb, FWPD’s public information officer, said.
Webb said the department has been bombarded with requests from television producers and, usually, the department turns down those requests because they tend to employ large camera crews which are too intrusive.
But this request was accepted because it was lean: only two camera crews of a sound man and a cameraman and a focus on the FWPD drone program, one of the best developed in the country, Webb said.
“They heard about our drones as a first responder program which a lot of agencies nationally are not doing, and so they asked if they can film and we vetted them, and we talked and met and everybody was kind of in agreement that it would be a good thing for the department and the city. So that’s how the whole ball got rolling initially,” Webb said during an interview Thursday.
Don’t expect to see the episode any time soon. Webb believes it might not be aired for nine months.
The request came in May and had to be vetted before it was approved, Webb said.
“The officers got a kick out of it,” Webb said, and it will probably be useful as a recruitment tool, raising the profile of the FWPD.
“It highlights the program. It lets the public know what it is. We’ve done our best to advertise it, but it lets the public know locally and also, nationally. Generally, COPS has been good for recruiting. It’s good for morale. Officers get to showcase their skills. The community gets excited about it.
“And also it’s good for transparency, so the public can see what we do, what we deal with, some of the equipment that we have, get to know some of the officers that are in the community,” Webb added.
The producers will probably add footage from other agencies to combine with this episode, Webb said.
The featured officers are a combination of seasoned and newer officers from the DFR (drone as first responder) program and the bike unit.
“They coordinated together to cover what incidences they got dispatched to, so you had one unit following the drone and one unit following the boots on the ground going to the run,” Webb said.
“We’ve vetted some other agencies, or some other TV production companies. The investigative shows call all the time. They want to feature Fort Wayne PD because the clearance rate is so high. I mean, we’re in the 80% and have been in the 80 percentile range for a while now, so that puts us on their radar,” Webb said.
Typically, the length of the production is long, sometimes six months to a year. Camera crews are so much more extensive so the interference with the daily duties of the detectives comes into play, Webb said.
That doesn’t mean more filming with the department won’t occur “down the road,” Webb said. At the FWPD, the chief consults with the division that would be filmed. The division heads talk to their officers to get feedback. Then a decision is made. Sometimes other agencies will be consulted to see how their experience was with certain production companies, Webb added.
No material or monetary benefit comes with the show– only departmental transparency, and Webb emphasizes, a focus on FWPD’s cutting-edge drone program.