Two years ago, on the heels of back-to-back reality television controversies, Miami police figured they’d give prime time another go.
Quietly, top brass bought into a proposal to shoot a new TV series, and allowed production crews to tag along with a handful of police officers, documenting arrests, taking interviews and conducting video shoots in order to come up with a pilot.
The end result was disappointing. Coconut Grove-based Entertainment Dynamix produced several sleek video trailers in August of 2013 featuring a bevy of speed boats, drug busts and, ahem, busts. But nobody picked up Miami Blue, The Real Miami Vice.
This week, however, a teaser for the show began receiving renewed attention — which may actually be a bad thing for its producers.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Miami’s police union president somehow learned about a show trailer, and by Monday night was claiming on Facebook that the department was using the clip to snag new recruits, and in the process exploiting its female officers. On Tuesday, new Chief Rodolfo Llanes said a video posted on the Random Pixels blog — featuring images of a female officer on the beach in a small, black bikini with a badge on her hip — was not even city-sanctioned and objectified the women who work for the department.
“That’s not the image of the Miami Police Department I want to portray,” Llanes said.
By Tuesday, after Llanes mentioned he was going to speak to an attorney, several versions of the trailer on YouTube had been made private.
Back when the clips were produced, Keith Haymes, CEO of Entertainment Dynamix, believed they were innocent enough. His team began shooting in mid-2013 with the consent of then-chief Manuel Orosa. Only a few months prior, Miami had cut ties with The First 48, a gritty show about homicide detectives that left town amid criticisms that the show stereotyped the black community and jeopardized murder investigations.
The city had also been embroiled in a 2011 dispute over another attempt to produce a reality series, this time called Miami’s Finest SOS. A trailer showed cigar-chomping, big-talking cops taking down black suspects and created an imbroglio that erupted into a war between Mayor Tomáas Regalado — whose son had ties to the video — and then-police chief Miguel Exposito.
But despite the previous reality tumult, Haymes said his team felt like it could still produce something classy and flashy that Miami police would embrace.
“We felt we had enough interest to go ahead and shoot a pilot, have a trailer, and have enough footage and episodes to where we could portray city officers in a favorable light,” he said. “If we have the full consent of the department it’s something we wouldn’t mind taking to the next level.”
Several trailers featured interviews with a marine patrol officer talking about bodies in the bay, a former undercover cop helping his daughter shoot a sniper rifle, and several female officers discussing the daily grind of their jobs. Some scenes were taken during Ultra, including one in which police union president Lt. Javier Ortiz is handcuffing a suspect.
“When I asked who was taking the video, Orosa told me it was for recruitment purposes,” Ortiz claimed in a text message.
Orosa said the video was never intended for recruiting purposes. He said there was an agreement with Haymes that if he sold his show, he’d commit $40,000 to the city’s cash-strapped Police Athletic League.
“They were here for about three days,” Orosa said. “They shot some scenes with different officers and they packaged a six minute sizzler reel to sell it to the networks.”
But Orosa retired in December and Haymes never sold his series. Llanes said he wasn’t aware it even existed until someone posted a trailer to Ortiz’s Facebook page Monday night. He said, however, that he understood Orosa’s desire to find money for the Police Athletic League.
“He’s got to bring a big check,” Llanes said of Haymes with a chuckle. “Let’s put it that way.”