WINSTON-SALEM, NC (Mark Price/Charlotte Observer) - Winston-Salem's Police Department may soon be in the national spotlight with its own reality TV show.
An announcement of the proposal came during a Monday City Council Public Safety Committee meeting, the Chronicle reported. Filming may begin as early as the fall, and it's possible the show could air on the A&E Network, reported the Winston-Salem Journal.
The proposed show comes at a time when reality TV involving police is increasingly popular and controversial, including accusations that such shows perpetuate stereotypes of minorities as criminals.
Winston-Salem officials say the city was approached in part because it has a female police chief. "We were selected because of our strong community ties, diversity, community trust and our demonstration of transparency," Police Chief Catrina Thompson told the Winston-Salem Chronicle.
Garden Productions, launched in 2010, says its goal is "to make cutting edge, ambitious, distinctive factual programs for major broadcasters in the UK and internationally." The company says it has produced more than 300 hours of some of Britain's "most memorable factual television," including an award winning series called "24 Hours In Police Custody."
Earlier this year, the city council in Spokane, Washington, approved controversial new regulations that restrict reality shows like "Live PD," reported the Spokesman-Review. The regulations include requiring such productions to submit all footage for police review before broadcasting, the news site reported.
Among those critical of that new law were news outlets in Spokane, who questioned whether the police would also restrict local media in reporting news.
Police officials in Winston Salem have already begun distancing the proposed show from existing police reality series.
Lt. Brian Dobey of the Winston-Salem Police told the Winston-Salem Journal the concept would not be like "Cops," but would instead be a more in-depth, human approach to policing. He likened the series to "a day in the life" of an officer and told the Journal each episode would likely focus on a single crime and the details that go into solving it.
Dobey said the city has not yet signed off on The Garden Productions contract and wouldn't until the city council, city manager and city attorney have expressed any concerns, the Journal reported.
Garden Productions is considering between six and 10 one-hour episodes according to the Chronicle.