"NYPD 24-7" provokes firefighters, annoys brass
AP Photos NYR104-105
By TOM HAYS
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - A gritty television documentary about police
that has filled the usual time slot for "NYPD Blue" has some
viewers seeing red.
After only three episodes, the ABC News series "NYPD 24-7" has
infuriated a firefighter union and annoyed officials at the New
York Police Department. Even Mayor Michael Bloomberg has weighed in
by panning the performance of one of "New York's Finest."
Publicly, police officials have taken no position on the show,
which was distilled from 16 months of footage shot by film crews
who shadowed detectives and other officers as they investigated
murders and fought urban crime.
But one high-ranking commander said Thursday that the brass has
been "less than thrilled" so far with the bleep-happy series. The
sight of detectives cursing and smoking cigars while investigating
a stabbing - where no one died - has raised eyebrows at the
nation's largest police department.
The real-life investigators "want to outdo 'NYPD Blue,"' said
the commander, who spoke on the condition his name not be used.
"Some of these guys are good cops, but put them in front of a
camera and they turn into dopes."
The biggest dope, according to the Uniformed Firefighter's
Association, is a former Emergency Service Unit lieutenant, Venton
"Vic" Hollifield.
With the cameras rolling at the scene of a car crash two years
ago, the now-retired Hollifield referred to firefighters there as
"amateurs." Once the show aired, the union paid more than
$100,000 for full-page adds in newspapers alleging the comment
"demeaned, slandered and belittled" firefighters before a
national audience, and demanded an apology from Police Commissioner
Raymond Kelly for sanctioning the show.
A spokesman for Kelly, Paul Browne, called Hollifield comments
"regrettable." But he added that ABC's "unfettered" access was
never subject to official review - a point further proven by
Hollifield while he makes a traffic stop of a suspected drunken
driver.
As recounted on the show's Web site, the officer flouted patrol
guidelines by making the motorist get out the car and then locking
his keys inside and telling him to catch a cab home. The encounter
ultimately ended with officers having to wrestle the enraged
suspect to the ground and arrest him.
At City Hall, Bloomberg called Hollifield's comments about
firefighters "wrong," and suggested Hollifield - not Kelly -
needed to apologize.
Hollifield hasn't. Nor has ABC, which considers the show a
commercial and critical success.
The series' point "was to go in and explore a closed culture,
the NYPD police culture, and see life as it happens," said
producer Terrence Wrong. "If you have faith in your institution,
you have no problem with that."
One positive note for the NYPD: Another commander who has viewed
the entire docu-series says future episodes - including one
featuring Kelly - won't embarrass anyone.
"The worst is over," he said.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)