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Reality TV program ‘Cops’ comes to Sonoma County

Cue the theme song: “Bad boys, bad boys, what’cha gonna do?”

The long-running TV series “Cops” begins eight weeks of filming Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies today.

Producers for the 29-year-old reality TV program - airing on Spike TV - are then slated to ride along with Santa Rosa police officers in May for another eight weeks.

“We want to showcase the good, hard work deputies do,” said sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Spencer Crum. “It will also show the challenges law enforcement face.”

A two-person team from Santa Monica-based Langley Productions are set to show up at today’s 4 p.m. briefing at the Sheriff’s Office before they will be assigned to a deputy for a swing-shift ride-along, Crum said.

Episodes will be broadcast later this year, but a spokeswoman for the production company could not provide a specific airing schedule.

Each 30-minute episode of “Cops” includes three unscripted segments from law enforcement agencies across the country.

A cameraman will sit in the front seat of a patrol vehicle and a sound operator will sit in the back to record deputies on the 10-hour swing-shifts from, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Crum said.

Crum said the response from deputies whose actions and words will be aired on cable TV has been positive.

Both witnesses to a crime and those arrested must sign a consent form before appearing in the final cut for broadcast, he said.

Deputies are not allowed to help production crews get consent from people.

“Nobody has to sign anything if they don’t want to,” said Crum, who expressed surprise people regularly agree to having video of their arrest air on TV.

Deputies and residents are not given any compensation for their participation in the program, according to the contract Sheriff Rob Giordano signed.

The production company and the Santa Rosa Police Department are finalizing a contract that would allow filming to start May 12, said Lt. Rick Kohut.

“Our officers are excited about it,” Kohut said. “Some want to do it and others don’t. No one will be forced to.”

Producers for “Cops” reached out to the Sheriff’s Office and Santa Rosa police in January. Both Crum and Kohut said interest in filming in Sonoma County was not directly related to the October fires that thrust the region into the national spotlight.

Producers gave Salinas and Stockton police departments as references to talk up the value of appearing on the show.

“We spoke with people at Stockton and Salinas and they said it was a really positive experience for their police departments,” Kohut said. “It’s good publicity for the city.”

“Cops” is one of TV’s longest-running series, first airing in March 1989 on Fox TV. More than 1,000 episodes have aired.

Each week the “Cops” crew in Sonoma County will send footage to Los Angeles County, where it will be edited, Kohut said.

Both the Sheriff’s Office and Santa Rosa police will have say over final edits that will appear on television.

You can reach Staff Writer Nick Rahaim at 707-521-5203 or nick.rahaim@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @nrahaim.

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