“The First 48” Follows Charlotte Cops; Do Cameras Change Behavior?


The Charlotte, N.C., police department, often guarded about its public image and internal workings, has opened its arms to a national TV series that showcases the details of the city’s most high-profile crimes, says the Charlotte Observer. A camera crew from the A&E Network series “The First 48” is following detectives as they respond to the city’s homicides. Over the next year, the crew will go beyond the yellow crime-scene tape and get wide-ranging access to the unfolding investigations.

Police say it’s a good way for them to draw attention to investigators’ work, and a public relations coup for the department. Critics say such heavily edited programs can give a distorted, simplistic picture of police work. And they worry that embedding cameras with officers changes how people act – as some say happened in a recent Detroit tragedy. That can jeopardize officers, their investigations, and the public. The show drew criticism after a crew following detectives in Detroit taped a raid that left a young girl dead. Police accidentally shot 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones after bursting into a home in search of a murder suspect – sparking questions about whether the presence of cameras led officers to act brashly.

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