After being the subject of a number of legal debates, the new season of A&E’s true-crime show “The First 48″ will feature the Louisville Metro Police Department in an episode set to air June 30, but the city is not renewing its contract with the television series.
The show has gained popularity for giving viewers a behind the scenes look at the first two days of a murder investigation, which experts claim is the most crucial time to make an arrest. Filming in Louisville began in 2008, but the department decided against renewing the contract in September 2010.
The latest installment is the investigation in the death of 41-year-old Gary Peals, who was shot to death in 2009. The case remains unsolved, but the footage is probably from unused files, a police spokesperson says.
“This is not a renewal of the contract,” says LMPD spokesman Dwight Mitchell. “There was nothing that was bad about the show. It was positive for us, but the chief decided that we wanted to take a break from it. There’s really no more or less to it than that.”
Earlier this year, however, the show was at the center of a number of criminal and civil cases that raised serious questions about its impact on local cases.
In March, a Louisville man filed a $3 million federal lawsuit against the network, alleging the show portrayed him as a murderer even though the charges against him were dismissed. Other local defense attorneys argued the program exaggerates and manipulates scenes and prejudices jurors against their clients.
Mithcell says the department had final edit powers over the shows produced in Louisville, and he isn’t aware if police officials are considering a contract renewal.