Sheriff responds to ‘COPS’ criticism

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — County commissioners and local business groups want Sheriff Dan Houston to reconsider bringing the TV show “COPS” back to the Albuquerque area, but it appears the sheriff is sticking to his guns.

Sheriff Houston responded to local criticism Monday, saying he will not cancel his department’s plans to allow the reality TV show’s cameras to ride-along with deputies. Meanwhile, Albuquerque’s mayor wants the show nowhere near his officers.

Former Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez kicked “COPS” to the curb in 2004 after several community groups expressed concern about how the city was portrayed in the show. However, Sheriff Houston said Monday that he was “not familiar” with any of the old problems.

“We have full intention of moving forward,” said Sheriff Houston.

The sheriff said in a news conference Monday that he thinks the show will be good for the department’s image.

“To showcase them in a positive way on a national platform, I think it’s the right thing to do,” said Sheriff Houston.

However, others disagree. Bernalillo County Commissioners Maggie Hart Stebbins and Debbie O’Malley signed a joint letter this weekend against the show, raising several concerns about the image it will send to businesses being recruited to the area. Albuquerque Economic Development Inc. and the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce have also come out against the show with similar concern about business.

“Just paints a misleading picture,” said Hart Stebbins

“It taps into people’s fears,” said O’Malley.

However, Sheriff Houston says banning “COPS” would be like hiding something.

“It’s not a message of cover up and pretending like crime doesn’t exist here, that’s not the right message for me,” said Sheriff Houston.

The sheriff says he didn’t ask anyone outside of the department for input. He says the show, which films in April, will only be allowed on certain crime scenes. Houston says the department will also have “full editorial control” over what airs.

“And we will exercise those rights. And we will make sure that what is put out is appropriate,” said Sheriff Houston. “We’re not going to let anyone come in here and make a spectacle of our department or our community.”

Houston says the department is not getting any financial compensation for its work with “COPS.” He says he sees “COPS” simply as a way to show the country just how capable his department really is.

“I’m proud of this department and I think just the opposite. I don’t think crime is going to be showcased here. I think what’s going to be showcased is an excellent law enforcement agency,” said Sheriff Houston.

Albuquerque Mayor R.J. Berry’s office says city attorneys will send a letter to “COPS” attorneys, telling them that APD officers won’t do interviews with the show or allow their cameras in their cars, even if BCSO and APD do joint operations. The mayor is also asking for Albuquerque’s name to be left out of the episodes titles.

BCSO’s April filming with cops will be the second time the show has tagged along with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department. The first time was in the late ’90s.

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