Showcasing the City

If you're not watching TLC's Police Women of Cincinnati, I'd encourage you to set your DVRs accordingly. The new series (part of an older franchise which previously explored other metropolitan areas) follows the duties of four policewomen on the Cincinnati Police Department. I'm already hooked. Some of the positives I took away from episode one:

  • They selected interesting ladies to follow. They seem incredibly competent and their interviews segments are compelling. I know I've met one of the officers (in front of my house) and I think I met another one around the community.
  • My 1990's exposure to "COPS" wore me out on these reality cop shows. But this show has a totally different feel. It was much more human.
  • Thus far, they seem balanced in their representation of urban issues. I've met a couple CPD officers who possess absolute disdain for their beat. But I've met many who truly love the people they protect. I think we'll get to see that even more in future episodes.
  • HD viewers are rewarded with some absolutely stunning night images of the city. I'm not sure who did their aerial filming, but I haven't seen better . . . ever.

That said, I harbor some hesitation about this show. I don't fear how outsiders will perceive our town as a result of the show (previous installments covered Dallas, Memphis, and South Florida. Those places have survived). No, my concern is for how Greater Cincinnatians will think of our urban areas.

There is already a prevailing city verses the suburbs attitude here. Our local media does little to regulate that, quick to highlight crimes near the city center while virtually ignoring evils committed in the 'burbs (a recent armed robbery at the West Chester Kroger received minimal coverage). Unfortunately, this new TLC show will do nothing but reinforce the negative opinions harbored against the city by those from this area. Cincinnati is not overtly violent and dangerous. We have no more issues than any other city our size. But many local residents will tell you otherwise.

I'll give you an example. I was in our cafeteria earlier today talking to a CPD officer and I asked him if he watched the show. He said he did and enjoyed it. He then asked my opinion. I told him that I wasn't too excited that my street was featured about six times, but that it was interesting TV. As we wrapped up our conversation, he encouraged me to, "be safe around your neighborhood."

This CPD officer knew where I lived and thought I was crazy for living there. If this is how someone who knows my neighborhood feels, how much worse an opinion do those who have never been here have?

Friends, I live in a safe place. When things go bump in the night, I'm never more concerned than I was when the same happened at our house in the suburbs. Many of the "dangerous streets" highlighted in last night's episode are those I've traversed on foot many-a-time. I fully recognize that you might not want to live here, but don't disparage it just because you don't understand it. For every thug they on television, there are hundreds of right-living people in the community. Urban life can be messy and chaotic, but it can also be beautiful. There's diversity. There's uniqueness. There's a neighborhood that has it's own personality. These are things I've never felt in my suburban life.

So go ahead and watch this show but don't succumb to the lowest common denominator. There's no need to blow up the city and start over. There are good people here who are doing their best to eek out an existence. The city doesn't have a monopoly on lowlifes. They're all over the place.

And as for me, I'll keep watching the show too. Who knows, I just might see my house.