A reality television series about homicide detectives is bringing its cameras to St. Louis.
The crew from A&E Network's "The First 48" is scheduled to begin taping in the city in mid-January, with the first episode expected to air six to eight months later. The show tags along with real detectives as they go through the process of homicide investigations.
Police Chief Sam Dotson said that although the show emphasizes violence and has the potential to complicate prosecutions, he believes St. Louis' involvement could improve the reputation of the city's officers and boost cooperation with the public. More than 20 cities have participated in the show since its inception in 2004, including Miami, Minneapolis and Dallas.
"This isn't a startup," the police chief said. "They've been doing this for a decade, so I have a high degree of confidence in them."
Dotson said the New Orleans police chief told him the show promoted the "good work and skill" of homicide detectives there.
"He told me it actually helped people feel comfortable talking to detectives, and sometimes, people would ask for them by name," Dotson said. "People recognized them and felt like they had a connection to them by watching the show."
The title of the TV series originates from the assumption that detectives are less likely to solve a case if they don't get a solid lead within the first two days after a homicide. Taping of the investigations typically continues beyond the 48-hour period, and episodes feature one to two cases at a time.
There have been some past legal issues with the show's involvement in investigations in other cities, sometimes resulting in city officials cutting ties with the series. Many former suspects have also said their images have been tarnished and lives put in danger after the show's negative depiction of them.
Taiwan Smart, a former suspect who won $860,000 in a lawsuit against the city of Miami, said the detectives in the case he was wrongfully charged in were more interested in the show's theatrics than justice.