FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Fairbanks City Council has approved a contract with Engel Entertainment for the production of a television show with the Fairbanks Police Department. Fairbanks Police Chief, Eric Jewkes, and Public Information Officer, Yumi McCulloch, were first approached during spring of this year by the entertainment company for a television show featuring our local department and its new recruits.
"I believe that we have a group of tremendous officers. We live in a tremendous town," Jewkes said.
The goal of the show is to present a story line between residents of the lower 48 coming to Alaska and being involved in law enforcement. Council members did show some apprehension, specifically on deadlines presented and potential dramatized situations.
“My grandmother is from the village of Tanana where Yukon man was the big thing, but watching that show, it's just really amazing how much they dramatize, like we're going to starve if we don't kill this moose. I've been to the grocery store in Tanana, it is packed to the rim with all sorts of foods," Councilwoman Joy Huntington said expressing caution on dramatization.
In the end, Councilwoman June Rogers was the only one to vote no on the resolution, “It just doesn't feel right, sign it or tomorrow it's gone,” she said.
Chief Jewkes reassured the council and the community, that this opportunity will not be a re-make of Cops, "People don't often understand what we do or what it means to police or to be involved in police work and so if we can do that in a respectful educational way and not make it corny then that will be a success,” he said.
Fairbanks Mayor Jim Matherly said he trusts Chief Jewkes and he also trusts the city attorney, giving the go-ahead.
“They looked into the contract. They looked at other communities that used Engel Entertainment for a similar project, they were honest in the project and they weren't concerned that they would say one thing and then turn it around and do another so based on those things and the changes in the contract that they allowed us to do. I'm all for it," he said.
The Fairbanks Police Department will not be paid for this show and they aren't paying for the production either. Chief Jewkes will have some editorial powers by viewing episodes before they go to air.
The signed contract will now go back to Engel Entertainment, and the discussion on when to start filming will begin. It is unclear when, and on what channel the show will air. After production is complete, it will be pitched to various networks in search of the best fit.