January 10, 2007

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Stop, speed racer
Local police officers are in the TruTV spotlight
By Brian†Early bearly@hippopress.com

Portsmouth police officers Rochelle Jones and Crissy Meyer are featured in two episodes of the television show Speeders, airing on TruTV (Thursday, 8 p.m.), which was named Court TV until the end of 2007. The show follows police officers across the country, filming everyday traffic violations and how people try to get out of them. The first episode featuring Portsmouthís finest appeared last Thursday. Jones talked about her moment in the spotlight.

Q:How did they end up choosing you and Officer Meyer?
I donít know how it all happened. My deputy chief approached me and asked me if I wanted to be on national TV. Of course Iím like, ďYeah. Sure. What for?Ē I had no idea what the show was going to be like. Itís very comical.

Describe the show.
Itís kind of like the blind-date show with all the bubble pop-ups. Itís very comical, but there is actual police work involved. The camera guy sits in the front seat; the producer was in the back seat along with another camera person. I just did my normal patrol. They were with me for two days, and they were with Chrissy for two days. We filmed back in September, actually on my five-year anniversary date with the department. It was very candid.

Whatís it like seeing you on TV?
Itís different. I sound a lot different. I donít sound like myself. ... My mom said, ďYouíre like the Rachael Ray of the police.Ē I watched the show with my parents, because I knew I would get an honest opinion from them. But my skit wasnít as funny as some others.

What kind of bad people did you get?
There were a couple of people I got that wouldnít sign waivers. ... I just assured people, ďJust concentrate on me right now. Iíll explain the camera later, but theyíre with me and youíll have an opportunity not to be on camera.Ē There was one guy who was rude and said, ďGet that camera out of my fíing face.Ē He was the only one; everyone was really supportive. I was the traffic car at the time, so that all I really did was stop cars. I didnít get sent to any other calls. Usually, Iíll get someone with a non-inspection [vehicle]. They have no license, they have a warrant and then they have drugs on them. Thatís a typical day for me. That just didnít happen with the crews. We got a couple of guys speeding. There was a guy with candy in the glove box, and Iím like, ďIf you give me some candy, Iíll give you a warning.Ē Iím a candy freak. Of course the next day after they left, there was a pursuit through three towns.

And most of the people sign the waivers?
Yeah... The camera guy and the producer explain the show, and most people sign the waiver. Only two people didnít sign it. We had a lot of motor vehicle stops, but not a lot that they could use. ... Sometimes itís funny to watch, but sometimes itís not funny to poke too much fun at people in a bad way when they are doing embarrassing stuff, which we run into a lot in our job.

Did you ever feel that the show COPS goes beyond the boundaries of the privateness of a person, and was that a challenge with what you do?
Sometimes you have the crackhead thatís acting up but they think theyíre being funny. You donít know what kind of frame of mind they are in when they sign a waiver. The people I was dealing with were sober and speeding. Itís another thing when youíre on drugs or drunk out of your mind and youíre signing a waiver. ... They always tell us in the police academy, donít do what you see on COPS. Thatís ... one thing I like about working in my hometown ... because you run into people and youíre much more compassionate. ... These are real people, youíre going to see them again, so it keeps you in check of how you treat people even when they are at their worst. Theyíre embarrassed the next day when you run into them. They think that you know everything about them, but to me itís just another call. ...

When you learn that people had to sign waivers, do you look at COPS differently?
For show like COPS, yeah. The Speeders show isnít as intrusive as COPS. I was surprised. I donít think they put them through a competency. Some people I think they should. We see people, 90 percent of time, at their worst, not at their best, and they donít like to be remembered like that. Everyone needs help sometimes, thatís why weíre here. Itís not a big deal.

Have you been arrested?
No. I came really close one time, which is how I got to know the police officers around here. I got into a couple of fights downtown. I was going down the wrong road. I ended up not being arrested, and they took me under their wings. ... I never, ever wanted to be a cop when I was younger. I wanted to be Fly Girl on In Living Color, like J. Lo. ... It wasnít until I decided to go into the military [where Jones worked as a prison guard at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth] when I was 19. ... That teaches you how to deal with people. I think every cop should have to work with incarcerated people before they become police officers. óBrian Early.

óBrian Early


Rochelle Jones (center, with camera man Justin Spina at left and producer Martin Pelcin at right) is one of two Portsmouth police officers featured in the television show Speeders. Courtesy photo.