A New York film company and Petersburg’s police department have been given the green light for local police officer involvement in a reality TV show. Petersburg’s borough assembly Monday, August 20 gave their approval for the borough to sign an agreement for filming expected to start this fall.
The reality show TV crew already did some limited filming here earlier this year to create a pitch video. Petersburg’s assembly viewed that earlier this month. Initially called “Alaska Law,” the show could also feature police departments in Kodiak and Fairbanks.
Kara Smith, the VP of development for Engel Entertainment, called in to Monday’s meeting. “Basically what we’re looking to do is do a one part ride along and one part just kind of living in Alaska,” Smith said of the show. “We’re looking at how lower-48 officers have moved up to Alaska and what that transition’s like and what the hurdles are at policing in Alaska.”
Smith said the company hoped to be filming six episodes starting in October over the course of 6-7 weeks. Engel Entertainment has also produced such shows as North Woods Law and Lone Star Law. The company has a buyer for the show but is not yet releasing the name of the network where it will air.
Petersburg’s new police chief Jim Kerr told the assembly he and his officers supported the project. “So I think with having this filming it will help us with recruitment,” Kerr said. “It’ll help showcase Petersburg overall and maybe bring in some tourism from that.”
Kerr said his understanding was that Petersburg Police could object to the company airing footage. Assembly members had some questions about liability for footage that would be aired and the borough’s input in that decision making.
“Is that accurate Kara?” asked vice mayor Jeigh Stanton Gregor. “The idea of some control Jim and staff have over something pretty sensitive happens that they can work with you guys on that or take it out if it isn’t going to work for our community?
“Yep. I was actually just going to jump in to confirm what the chief said,” Smith responded. “In our development agreement we had the review information clause in there where it allows for the review of materials in which you guys can tell us kind of why something may or may not work for the department and then we’ll work from there so.”
The assembly’s decision was over the signing of an amended agreement with the company, adding language to the contract signed by the borough for that initial filming back in the spring. The borough’s attorney will be hammering out some of the final terms of that pact with the company though. The vote was 4-0 to approve the filming with Mayor Mark Jensen and assembly members Kurt Wohlhueter and Jeff Meucci not at the meeting.