RCMP TV gets the axe

The RCMP has cancelled its reality TV production after an outcry from the community. "We just don't feel we've got the public support to continue," said David Gilbert, the Yukon RCMP's director of operational strategy.

The RCMP has cancelled its reality TV production after an outcry from the community.

“We just don’t feel we’ve got the public support to continue,” said David Gilbert, the Yukon RCMP’s director of operational strategy.

Filming with True Entertainment, a New York-based production company, began on Aug. 10.

On Aug. 16 filming was put on hold after an emergency meeting with the production company.

Now the contract with True Entertainment has been cancelled for good.

The RCMP will not face a penalty for withdrawing from the show, said Gilbert.

“The agreement was written in such a way that is the RCMP was not in a position to continue its participation, we had the ability to withdraw from it.”

It is highly unlikely that any of the footage shot will be aired, he said.

“Even if they did hold onto it, all that material is still subject to the agreement that we have with them. It could only be used for this production, which is now no longer happening, and if they wanted to do anything else with it, we would have to approve of that use in any case.”

Community groups complained that the show would exploit the Yukon’s most vulnerable for the purpose of entertainment, and could deter people from calling the police for fear that they would show up with a camera crew.

“The last thing we want is for people not to feel that they can call the police when they need help,” said Gilbert.

Still, he said that many of the community’s concerns were based in misconceptions about the aims of the show.

“Really, it’s unfortunate that some of the response that we got from the public was really based on some misconceptions both about the intentions and about how the process would work to protect those areas that people were concerned about.”

Part of the problem is that the agreement with the production company was not signed until August, and there was pressure to begin filming right away to recover what was left of the summer, said Gilbert.

The goal was to show Yukoners and Outsiders a broad picture of how policing works in the North, he said.

“We still think it’s very important for some of the RCMP’s stories to be told, and we think there are some very good stories to be told about how we work with communities and the kinds of things that happen that aren’t just focused on some of the social problems we’re all aware of and we all deal with day to day.

“We’ve got lots of good initiatives going on with communities where our members and employees are into really good, positive partnerships with community groups and First Nations and communities themselves. And it would be really good to get that out someday and let the public see that other side of policing, that your mind doesn’t leap to immediately all the time.”

The RCMP will continue to look for other avenues to get that story out, said Gilbert.

“We have no interest in pressing forward with something that people are not prepared to accept.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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