ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mayor Richard Berry can’t keep the “COPS” television crews out of the Albuquerque area.
But he made it clear on Tuesday that he doesn’t want to see the city’s name, its officers or its neighborhoods on the show.
Producers can also forget about help from Albuquerque’s film office.
City attorneys fired off letters Tuesday to Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston and Langley Productions Inc. to make the city’s position clear.
It has been more than a decade since “COPS” was filmed in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.
Then-Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez banned “COPS” from working with APD in 2001, and Berry has continued that ban.
But Houston announced the return of “COPS” last week and said it would be a good way to show off the excellent work of deputies. Langley Productions is the production house behind “COPS,” which airs episodes on Spike TV.
The show often features breathless police chases and inarticulate suspects trying in vain to explain away their behavior, all as the cameras roll.
City attorneys on Tuesday urged Houston to use his editorial control to ensure the series isn’t filmed within Albuquerque city limits and that city police officers aren’t shown “in any location.”
Sheriff’s deputies generally patrol outside city limits, though they sometimes work jointly with Albuquerque police officers.
“Additionally, please use your editorial control to ensure that no representations are made that the series is filmed in the city of Albuquerque,” City Attorney David Tourek said in a letter to Houston.
To Langley Productions, Tourek said APD won’t participate at all in production of the television program, even when its officers work with sheriff’s deputies on certain calls.
“To that end, the city of Albuquerque does not grant your production company or any associated entities the authorization to interview any of our officers or other personnel at APD for the purposes of producing COPS,” Tourek said in the letter.
“Our film office at the city of Albuquerque will not be available to assist you for any part of your production.”
He underlined the words “will not.”
Tourek also asked “COPS” to avoid using the word “Albuquerque” in episode titles or advertisements.
Houston said crews will film deputies in April. It’s not clear when they episodes would air.
“This is a great way to showcase the high-quality deputies we have here in Bernalillo County,” Houston said last week.
The return of the show to Bernalillo County has also drawn opposition from County Commissioners Maggie Hart Stebbins and Debbie O’Malley, who sent their own letter to Houston.
“The show’s sensational focus on criminal activity sends a message nationwide that Bernalillo County is a dangerous place to live and do business,” they said.
Berry told the Journal on Tuesday that the show unfairly highlights the worst of communities. Albuquerque should be showing off its positives, he said.
“What’s filmed on ‘COPS’ happens in every community,” he said.