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St. Louis Cityscapes And City Views

Source: Raymond Boyd / Getty

Damn…Damn….Damn!!! It finally happened! “Da Lou” will be a featured city on A&E’s “The First 48.” For almost 13 years, the TV series “The First 48” has tagged along with real police detectives through the gritty, bloody process of investigating homicides, often from the initial call through an arrest and the affect and aftermath of murder.

Starting in January, the crew from cable TV’s A&E Network will bring its cameras to St. Louis.

Producers have been after St. Louis for years, but Dotson said he balked out of concern that it wouldn’t be good for the city’s image. He said recently that a conversation with the New Orleans police chief at a conference changed his mind.

“He told me it actually helped people feel comfortable talking to detectives, and sometimes, people would ask for them by name,” Dotson said. “People recognized them and felt like they had a connection to them by watching the show.

“The show highlights the good work and skill that homicide detectives have, and there’s no better way to promote that.”

More than 20 cities have participated, including Miami, Minneapolis, Dallas, Kansas City and Tulsa, Okla.

Camera crews are expected to start shadowing the St. Louis homicide squad in mid-January, with plans to air the first episode six to eight months later.

The upside, Police Chief Sam Dotson believes, is to humanize officers and generate better cooperation to help break the “don’t snitch” urban code.

 The downside, some say, is an emphasis on a city’s violent underbelly and concerns about complicating prosecutions. Those are calculated risks that Dotson says he is willing to take with a production company that so far has aired 333 episodes since it premiered in June 2004.

“This isn’t a startup,” Dotson said. “They’ve been doing this for a decade, so I have a high degree of confidence in them.”

The show’s “The First 48” title refers to an assumption that investigators who don’t get a solid lead in the first two days after a murder are far less likely to solve it. Taping usually continues beyond that period. Some of the hourlong episodes feature one case, while others swing back and forth between two.

Several St. Louis homicide detectives said they see the program as an opportunity to display how much goes into an investigation and to counter complaints they sometimes hear about not working hard enough. Ultimately, they hope to illustrate how crucial witness cooperation is to breaking a case. They declined to speak on the record, saying department policy barred them from speaking to the media without permission.

Some believe improving police and community relations was an “unintended consequence” of his show.

“Police chiefs have been grateful and we’ve certainly heard from family members that said, ‘I had no idea how hard they (the detectives) worked,’ and that they had no idea how they sacrificed time away from their families to help theirs,” said “The First 48” executive producer, Alexis Robie.

“People think they know how the criminal justice system works, especially when they’re watching scripted TV,” he said. “But when we do get complex cases, it shows people just how challenging this really is. I feel like it’s a civics lesson.

Now you know how St. Louis LOVE to clown, period! But put some national TV camera in the mix?!?!? This is going to be crazy! Stay tuned!


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