Detroit mayor bars reality TV crews from accompanying police


Mayor Dave Bing has banned reality TV crews from following along with Detroit police and criticized the city’s police chief for having allowed the practice. The mayor’s action came after cameras from A&E TV’s “The First 48” were rolling during a police raid May 16th in which a seven-year-old girl was killed.

In an interview with the Detroit News, Mayor Bing said of Police Chief Warren Evans that a deputy mayor is now “reining him in.” The mayor had said he was unaware of the police department’s contract with The First 48, which began six years ago under a different mayor and chief, but which was renewed by Evans. The city does not receive any compensation from the reality TV show.

The mayor told the newspaper that he had seen the video of the May 16th raid, in which police were seeking a murder suspect, but that it showed nothing conclusive about the circumstances under which the child was shot in the neck when an officer’s gun went off. Mayor Bing said that as soon as he learned that a camera crew had accompanied the police on the raid, he notified the chief and deputy mayor “That’s the end of that.”

According to a spokeswoman for the mayor, local media outlets will still be allowed to do “ride-alongs” with Detroit Police. “We’ll assess that on a case-by-case basis,” Karen Dumas told the Detroit News.

RBR-TVBR observation: It’s a tough call for local authorities. The various reality TV police shows, beginning 22 years ago with the still-running “COPS” on Fox, can provide favorable exposure for local law enforcement. But there’s also the risk of having officers being seen as showboating for the cameras and for people captured on camera in unflattering circumstances to sue both the TV show and local government.