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Producers Say Ruling Won't Affect Shows

Television: 'Cops' and others claim privacy issues are already addressed.

May 26, 1999|GREG BRAXTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Producers of police "reality" shows were unfazed by Monday's decision by the Supreme Court calling a halt to the police practice of taking news reporters and crews with them to observe raids in private homes.

Most, like "Cops," the pioneer of the police reality genre that is preparing to enter its 12th season, have already made adjustments in filming techniques to address privacy issues.

Indeed, "Cops" executive producer John Langley said he expects the reality-based show to be unchanged by the ruling, even though the series revolves around ride-alongs and the arrest of suspects in their homes.

"The recent Supreme Court ruling regarding media ride-alongs is very specific in addressing 4th Amendment issues of rights to privacy in relation to search warrants," said "Cops" Langley in a statement.

"While we do not necessarily agree with that decision, we are obligated to point out that, as a so-called 'ride-along' show, we are unaffected by the decision because we obtain releases from everyone involved in our program," Langley continued.

The statement concluded, "Moreover, we do not, under any circumstances, violate rights of privacy whether in this context or any other context."

The series just commemorated its 400th episode and is considered one of the workhorses of the Fox prime-time schedule. That position was quietly echoed by others involved in producing police reality shows, which have become a television staple.

Another series using extensive ride-along footage, "LAPD: Life on the Street" is no longer in production, even though episodes continue to air nightly on KCAL-TV Channel 9. Producers of that show said the series, which was syndicated by MGM Television, is unlikely to return, but that the furor over the home searches had nothing to do with ending the filming of new installments.

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