Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has approved five proposed reality television programs about his nearly 9,000-deputy department, allowing video cameras inside the training academy, homicide unit, patrol cars, and crime lab, says the Los Angeles Times. “The Academy” premieres today on the Fox Reality network – alongside such fare as “Extreme Dating,” “World’s Scariest Explosions,” and “Sexy Cam.” It tracks a class of 111 recruits through 18 weeks of in-your-face instruction and gut-busting physical training that proves too tough for some.
The attraction to Baca is selling the Sheriff’s Department to the public and potential recruits, just as the Los Angeles Police Department did by providing a backdrop for TV’s “Dragnet” and “Adam 12” in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Baca plans to hire 1,300 new deputies and is looking for ways to attract applicants. The department’s income from “The Academy” is expected to be $150,000. In addition to “The Academy” and “The Assignment,” the sheriff has authorized “L.A. Homicide,” which would document detectives investigating murder cases; “The Real CSI,” a look into the scientific analysis of evidence, and “Sheriff’s Stories,” which would track cases from crime scene to arrest. The latter three shows are still in creative development and have not been sold. Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley fears that the programs will give defense attorneys more opportunities to question the sheriff’s investigative methods. Cooley assigned prosecutors to examine potential legal pitfalls and to meet with sheriff’s officials to discuss concerns.