SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams confirmed Wednesday that the TV show "Cops" has been filming in Springfield this summer — and that it is pulling out early as a result of the shooting death of one of its crew members in Omaha, Nebraska.
Williams said crews with Langley Productions, which produces the show, began accompanying Springfield officers earlier this summer and had an agreement to film through the end of this week.
Episodes incorporating footage filmed in Springfield should air next month. Footage for the show was previously filmed in Springfield in 2011.
Authorities in Omaha say Bryce Dion, 38, a sound mixer, was shot by officers responding to the report of a robbery. Although he was wearing a bulletproof vest, Dion was shot under the left arm, authorities say, which the vest did not cover. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital, along with the robbery suspect.
Williams was not aware of the Omaha death when he initially spoke to a reporter Wednesday but said there have been "no unfortunate incidents at all" while the production company has been in Springfield. He compared the situation to a ride-along.
"In essence, it's just a couple guys riding with officers on a routine patrol," said Williams, who later called back to say the production company was ending its work in Springfield due to the death.
In the beginning of July, multiple individuals on social networks described seeing a TV cameraman accompanying Springfield officers. In response to a voicemail requesting confirmation on July 3, Springfield police spokeswoman Lisa Cox sent an email to a reporter stating "we're unable to confirm or deny claims of COPS being filmed here." Langley Productions did not respond to requests for comment at that time.
Other media outlets had already reported the show was filming in Omaha and Des Moines, Iowa, this summer.
Following Dion's death, the News-Leader made a new series of inquiries. When a city spokeswoman reiterated that she could neither confirm nor deny whether crews were filming in Springfield, a reporter discussed the possibility of filing a request under Missouri Sunshine Law, and Williams called shortly thereafter.
Williams said the production company requests police departments not publicly talk about whether the show is filming, given concerns about people "trying to get in front of the camera."
While the decision to allow the show to film in Springfield in 2011 involved "a lot of discussion and back and forth," it was an easier decision this time, Williams said. He called the show's visit to the city in 2011 "a very positive experience" and "very popular with the public, very popular with City Council." He said the shows are a recruiting tool and inform the public about what officers face during the course of their work.
"People don't know what they do after dark sometimes," he said.
The city was not paid for allowing crews to film. Williams said he gets final approval on what ultimately makes it into the episodes.
Andy Hogan, a senior at Missouri State University this fall, told the News-Leader last month that he and a roommate were driving north on North Glenstone Avenue at 10:30 p.m. on July 2 when a police car pulled over a Ford Taurus station wagon.
Two officers got out and approached the car, along with one man with a camera — and Hogan immediately figured it was for the show.
"I was like, there's no way that this is happening," Hogan told the News-Leader in early July.
After a stop at Andy's Frozen Custard, Hogan said he passed by the traffic stop from the opposite direction. The two officers were by the driver's window, and the cameraman was stationed by the front side mirror.
Hogan said he's watched the show before, including footage filmed in Springfield previously.
'Yeah, we watch it for just the humor of it," he said.