Fans of A&E's The First 48 love homicide detective Caroline Mason, the high-heeled star of the reality show's Memphis episodes. More than a year after it ran in the Memphis Flyer, an interview with Mason still receives comments on the Flyer website on an almost weekly basis.
But Mason's fans will be disappointed to learn that the Memphis Police Department (MPD) has suspended filming with the popular reality show. Filming of new cases was halted May 1st, and the crew is only allowed to finish filming cases they began shooting before the suspension.
"We can't talk about why we're suspending filming," said Joe Scott, assistant commander of investigative services for the MPD. "There's no hard feelings. Nothing happened that was wrong. There are reasons, but those are operational things that are not public."
Even the producers of the show weren't informed why they were asked to stop filming.
"All the feedback about the show has been really positive," said Laura Fleury, executive producer of The First 48.
City councilwoman Wanda Halbert said the decision to halt filming may have stemmed from a discussion wth police director Larry Godwin during a recent council meeting. A few council members had questions about how the show could potentially tarnish the city's image, Halbert said.
The city receives no monetary compensation for First 48.
"The show has been on for years. They could have at least put money in a victim's fund," Halbert said.
Scott said the department is leaving the door open to resume filming at a later date.
"There's nothing written in stone to say they can't come back," Scott said. "That's why we use the word 'suspended.'"
Fleury hopes the suspension is only temporary: "We hope they will come back, because there is so much support for the show in the Memphis community and in the police department. We've heard that since the show began filming, people in Memphis are more inclined to work with police. They recognize the officers they see on TV."
The First 48 features segments from 11 major cities and shows investigators solving and making arrests in homicide cases. The show began filming Memphis homicide investigations in 2005, during its third season. Two photojournalists are stationed in Memphis, and they follow detectives on nearly every case.
Cases are only shown on the program, however, when an arrest is made within the first 48 hours of the investigation.