BPD would like to thank the South End News and Emily Cataneo for this week's article on BPD's weekly cable show 'Call the Cops' hosted by Officer Jamie Kenneally. Viewers can catch an episode every Wednesday on BNN Channel 9 from 8:00pm-8:30pm. Viewers can also click on the 'Call the Cops' link on the blog to access prior episodes.
’Call the Cops’-for fun
by Emily Cataneo
Friday Nov 6, 2009
TV show gives police a chance to connect with community on informal basis
It may not be "CSI" or "The Closer," but the Boston Police Department’s show "Call the Cops" has several advantages over its glamorous, big-budget counterparts: it’s both real and useful.
"Call the Cops," which first aired in the early 1990s, is hosted by a member of the Boston Police Department, who has a special guest on every week to talk about safety or to showcase an esoteric branch of the force. The show, which airs Wednesdays from 8:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on the Boston Neighborhood Network, also offers Bostonians the opportunity to call in and share their questions and concerns with the police.
And a South End voice runs Boston’s version of "Cops."
"It’s another way for the department to reach out to community members," said District 4 Officer Jamie Kenneally, who has hosted the show for two years.
One of the mainstays of the show is weekly safety tips. Last week’s show was a Halloween special on keeping safe while trick-or-treating. The show also aims to explore the dangers of walking on thin ice in the winter and the potential dangers of swimming in the summer. Sergeant Mike O’Connor, who has appeared on the show several times, specified one particularly informative safety guest as Judge Kathleen Coffey of the West Roxbury court, who talked about domestic violence. Another night, O’Connor and Kenneally presented a more general collection of tips.
"One night, we did a session on safety tips from spring, summer, fall, and winter," said O’Connor, who runs several children’s programs and serves as police liaison to filming crews in Boston.
According to O’Connor, the show also fosters a dialogue with the community by encouraging Bostonians to call in and share their concerns.
"People might be afraid to walk into the station, but they shouldn’t be afraid to call," he said.
One community call that stuck with O’Connor was from two high school boys whom he met at the Boston Police Explorers Program, which caters to Boston teens who are interested in joining the force. O’Connor mentioned the show during the program, and several weeks later, two of the boys called in.
"These kids are juniors, seniors in high school, and they’re watching cable TV on a Wednesday night," said O’Connor.
Although "Call the Cops" has its serious elements, Kenneally emphasized that the show is about more than just safety tips and fostering dialogue. It’s about having fun, too.
"We take the show seriously, but we try not to take ourselves too seriously," he said.
He described one episode in which now-retired Chief Robert Dunford cooked dinner while talking about his career. At the end of the show, he shared a recipe with the audience.
"Call the Cops" also aims to showcase portions of the police force that the public might not know about. In mid-October, one such show centered around Jim Barry, founder and president of the Boston Police Gaelic Column, an all-volunteer bagpipe band that plays at funerals, functions, and the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
"I watch the show, and I’ve been a fan of the show for a long time. I really got a kick out of being on. I was excited about being on it, because I had watched it for years," said Barry. "It was a great way of presenting something that we do uniquely on a volunteer basis."
Ultimately, by highlighting branches of the force like the Boston Gaelic Column, "Call the Cops" aims to make the police force more accessible and to educate the community.
"[By watching the show], people will realize a couple of things: that they have a lot of great police officers out there, and they’ll realize tips to keep themselves safe," said Kenneally.