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Posted: Monday, 04 November 2013 6:31AM

New Orleans cops not quite ready for prime time



Some complicated cases have delayed the start of a TV series featuring New Orleans homicide detectives. 

A&E TV's 'The First 48' was supposed to have started airing a series of shows featuring the NOPD Homicide Section this fall.

However..."Some of the investigations took a little longer and some of the cases were a little more in-depth than they first thought," says Sergeant Nicholas Gernon, with the NOPD Homicide Section.

"The first show is in its final stages, slated to air some time in January."

The TV crew just started shooting this summer, and Gernon says, in some cases, they've had to wait for forensics and grand juries.

"So, they're still here. We anticipate them being here until next summer. They're continuously filming new cases as well as filming updates on old cases and then sending them out to New York where they get edited and put together."

The documentary-style series follows every murder call that comes in to the NOPD and the work the police do to solve them...with an emphasis on the first 48 hours after a homicide is committed...believed to be the most crucial in an investigation

But, Gernon says a murder investigation can't be rushed to meet a TV deadline.

"And, I think New Orleans is lucky because the company that makes this television show is made up of pretty experienced individuals who've been in a bunch of other cities so they really understand when to stay back and when they can engage and what their role is. From the very beginning, they've been adamant that their number one priority is the integrity of the investigation. They don't overstep their boundaries. They certainly understand that everybody's goal is a positive resolution to these cases."

Gernon says production crews are with the police 24 hours a day, 7 days a week...at crime scenes, through the search for evidence, during interviews with witnesses and suspects, as well as through meetings with victims' loved ones.

"It's been an easier transition than we thought for the officers. At this point they've gotten used to it," says Gernon.

"More so, the change we see is that the citizens are noticing them now, and they'll even sometimes engage them or point them out or, sometimes, it'll even break the ice. And it's even, now, becoming beneficial because it's sometimes used as a way to talk to people who may otherwise not want to talk to us."

New Orleans residents who happen to be near murder scenes will be asked beforehand whether they agree to be filmed. No resident will be filmed who does not want to be filmed.

"I think we're finding that there are people who, maybe in the past, wouldn't have spoken to us at all...that, now at least, we can kind of engage them a little bit verbally because of the camera crew. Everybody recognizes the 'First 48' and what they do. They've certainly become a topic of conversation between the detectives and the citizens and it builds a little bit of a relationship. Now, the detectives are able to give that citizen their phone number and ask them to call if they see anything else. And, the citizen might feel a little more comfortable now, knowing that they've had the opportunity to engage that detective about something not related to the murder."

"It was very much an unexpected plus," Gernon says. "It's interesting to watch the dynamics. The relationships kind of build a little bit."

And he says, eventually, residents will get to see how much work actually does go into a homicide investigation.

"The TV crews are on the murder scene. They're there and they're following a number of cases with a number of leads. The citizens in this community are certainly going to get the opportunity to see how those detectives follow those leads and how these cases are developed and are prosecuted."

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Locations : New OrleansNew York
People : Nicholas Gernon
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