By Callie Yardley
Camera. Lights. Action. This is not what the job of police officers normally entails—unless, that is, they are filming for the reality-based show “COPS.”
The Lubbock Police Department recently did just that, adding Hub City to the list of more than 140 cities featured on the Spike television show since 1989. The Lubbock episode is expected to air later this year.
Lt. Ray Mendoza, LPD’s spokesman, said “COPS” producers contacted the department to ask whether officers would like to be featured. Their agreement was swift.
“We were on board pretty much right away because the show ‘COPS’ is pretty famous,” Mendoza said.
The show sent a representative to Lubbock to provide information to the department. The filming logistics were ironed out, and the producers told LPD when they wanted to film based on past experiences.
“We made sure the officer was not a rookie,” Mendoza said. “It was somebody who was more seasoned and had experience and could talk intelligently about some of the cases that were handled.”
The crew filmed different incidents, but only a few of them will air, Mendoza added.
LPD’s hope is that the episode will bring publicity to the department and have a positive effect on the community.
“It will put us a little more in the spotlight because a lot of people do watch that show,” Mendoza said. “We’re hoping people see that and say ‘Hey, I want to come work in Lubbock.’”
But some local residents are not exactly proud of Lubbock’s upcoming appearance on “COPS.”
Elizabeth Holmes, a recovering drug addict in Lubbock, said she does not like how the show often shames vulnerable people — an experience she knows first-hand.
“It films people at their worst, and a lot of those people have gone through really tough times,” Holmes said. “It exploits them, and so many of them were victimized as children. By putting them on television, it re-victimizes them, when a lot of the times they don’t have a choice in the matter.”
There are good cops and bad cops, she said, and “COPS” shows the bad side of the police.
“Cops are there to protect and serve, but if you’re on the other side, it makes you not want to trust them,” Holmes said. “They’re exploiting people for entertainment and that says something about the show.”
Holmes said she would not be tuning in to see the show when premieres.
“I guess everyone will have to just watch the show and make their own judgments about it,” Holmes said.
Kathy Hart, a longtime watcher of “COPS,” said that although she enjoys the show and believes Lubbock police officers are good at what they do, she is concerned that the producers were likely attracted by Lubbock’s crime rates.
“It shows there is a lot of crime here,” Hart said. “We will look like idiots.”
Mendoza, however, is optimistic.
“Obviously, we’re going to have some calls that are going to be less than flattering,” he said. “Again, the idea is to put Lubbock on the map, on a national scale, for us to get hopefully new recruits.”