Sonoma County deputies to make ‘Cops’ debut Monday; Santa Rosa police episodes to follow

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Sonoma County deputies will make their “Cops” debut Monday night, nearly a year after camera crews with the reality TV show first rode along with them, a sheriff’s spokesman said.

The episode, titled “Not in My Back Yard,” will premiere at 10 p.m. on Paramount Network, formerly Spike TV, a spokeswoman for the show confirmed. It documents a group of swing shift deputies responding to a reported assault that involved two neighbors, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Spencer Crum said.

Deputy Fletcher Skerrett can be seen in the episode’s trailer asking a man if he was shot with a BB gun or pellet gun, Crum said.

“When we saw that it said ‘Not in our Back Yard,’ it totally made sense for our scene,” he said.

The show’s producers alerted the Sheriff’s Office about two weeks ago about the episode airing.

That scene and others selected by producers were sent to the Sheriff’s Office back in August and approved by then-Sheriff Robert Giordano, as well as other command staff and the swing shift deputies who were filmed, Crum said.

“We got a thumbs-up from everyone,” he said.

Sonoma County audiences may see more familiar faces on “Cops” on April 1 and April 29, when the show airs episodes featuring Santa Rosa police officers, the show spokeswoman said. The Police Department gave the show the OK to film in May, two months after camera crews rode along with the Sheriff’s Office.

The decision to allow the crews to film in Sonoma County was met with some criticism by some criminal justice leaders.

Sonoma County’s law enforcement auditor Jerry Threet and Bob Aaronson, Santa Rosa’s independent police auditor at the time, expressed concerns with how the show would portray minority communities, including homeless residents and Latinos. Sonoma County Public Defender Kathleen Pozzi said the show had the potential to exploit poor and mentally ill residents, as well as those whose immigration status might be in question. The Sheriff’s Office in May said it would keep Pozzi’s concerns in mind before signing off on any clips.

Officers on the show did not manufacture arrests or incidents for the “Cops” cameras, but instead showed the reality of what officers do, Santa Rosa Lt. Rick Kohut said last year. People who are filmed by the “Cops” camera crews must sign a release form before the show can use the footage.

“This isn’t anything extreme or extraordinary but an example of what deputies would face on any given day in Sonoma County,” Crum said of Monday’s episode.

Staff Writer Andrew Beale contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @nashellytweets

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