Arrest of a story

Posted on Jan 12 2007 in From the Editor

The big police news here in Indianapolis this month is the Jan. 1 merging of the Indianapolis Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department into the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. The merger, said Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, should save from $9 to $10 million and will eventually lead to more officers patrolling capital city streets.

Fifty-five miles away in Muncie, law enforcement is making headlines for another reason. Reality TV — not content to just exploit so-called celebrities as ice skaters, dancers, boxers or duet singers — is now handing badges and firearms to folks better suited to protecting mythical Mayberry than Middletown, USA. CBS is filming a TV show called “Armed and Famous” in Muncie. The show’s premise: Turning “celebrities” into reserve police officers. Filming continues through the middle of this month.

Just think — neighborhoods not too unlike those in your communities are being “protected” by the likes of LaToya Jackson (Michael’s sister. Enough said.), Erik Estrada (he’s not really a cop, but he used to play one on television), and Jack Osbourne (son of Ozzy, best known for appearing in “The Osbournes” reality TV show).

This sort of reality TV disturbs me. If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? Certainly not LaToya Jackson!

Yet, it seems Muncie residents are not fretting about police protection. Some are instead  happily gathering autographs (during traffic stops no less). I can’t believe people are actually trying to get arrested in hopes of meeting Erik Estrada … and being immortalized for breaking the law on TV.

Folks in Muncie seem to be enjoying their hometown’s foray into the international spotlight. (Media from as far away as Australia is commenting on “Armed and Famous.”) There have been “celebrity” sightings at locales like laundromats and the local Wal-Mart. And could that have indeed been Jack Osbourne drinking a beer at one of Ball State’s watering holes?

As a former Muncie resident, I’m curious about how the town and its citizens will be depicted in the show. Will producers make fun of small-town Middle America or will humor be milked from the “celebrities’” fish-out-of-water antics? And, if enough people watch the show, will the show be back for another season? Just think: Jack Osbourne could be coming to  your neighborhood!