By Robert Salonga
San Jose Mercury News
SAN JOSE — Cue the music, because they're coming for you, San Jose.
The pioneering police reality television show "Cops" will be riding along with boys in blue of the San Jose Police Department starting Tuesday night, kicking off a 10-week filming stretch. It marks the first time in 26 years of the show's odes to law enforcement that the country's 10th largest city will be featured.
"It lets the community see what we do," police spokeswoman Sgt. Heather Randol said. "It provides greater transparency and there's always the positive impact it could have for recruitment."
That last point can't be emphasized enough. SJPD has seen its ranks shrink by nearly a third since 2008, when it boasted more than 1,400 officers. That number is just over a thousand now, with around 900 actually suiting up for full duty, amid a years-long exodus of officers fleeing from a political climate stemming from austerity measures and a bitter pension-reform fight.
Having officers lionized in the trademark "Cops" way could lift a lot of spirits, which is one reason the department, after weighing the pros and cons, agreed to the show's offer to film.
"When it's all said and done, it will be a boost for morale," Randol said. "There are officers who are excited and quickly volunteered."
Two camera crews will shadow patrol units and other specialized units to be decided in the near future. They'll cover primarily swing shifts and midnight shifts, a backdrop the show typically employs to amplify the danger of daily police work.
Randol said she doesn't expect officers to freeze up — or ham it up — with the cameras rolling.
"We want them to be natural and do their job as they normally do it. We know over time it will loosen up," she said. "It'll give an honest look at what we do every day."
Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Copyright 2014 the San Jose Mercury News