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Decision on ‘The First 48’ filming in Gwinnett delayed

UPDATE: The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners tabled a decision on allowing “The First 48” access to its homicide detectives until its Aug. 1 meeting.

ORIGINAL STORY: “The First 48” — A&E’s provocative documentary series that follows homicide detectives during the crucial period immediately following a suspicious death — wants to film in Gwinnett County.

And police Chief Butch Ayers is all for it.

“The benefits of allowing this series access to the department,” he wrote in a memo to other county leaders, “revolve around the following: national department exposure for recruiting new police applicants, increasing the morale and productivity of departmental personnel, and [shedding] light on the hard work that goes into every homicide investigation.”

Gwinnett’s Board of Commissioners is scheduled to consider Tuesday the agreement that would grant production crews increased access to follow Gwinnett detectives as they investigate cases. 

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The initial agreement would grant crews access for up to a year.

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“The First 48” — which has previously filmed in the city of Atlanta and in DeKalb County, as well as many other cities around the country — bills itself as taking viewers “behind the scenes of real-life investigations as it follows homicide detectives in the critical first 48 hours of murder investigations, giving viewers unprecedented access to crime scenes, interrogations and forensic processing.”

Individual episodes generally feature cases from multiple jurisdictions.

Gwinnett County police handled a total of 29 homicide cases in 2016 and, as of Monday morning, had seen 16 so far this year. 

The department is authorized to have 783 sworn officers but is currently more than 100 officers short. It has battled with attrition for several years, thanks in part to upstart city departments that are able to pay more and a purported dwindling of interest in the profession. 

In recent years, the department has turned to places as far away as upstate New York to recruit new officers. It’s holding a local hiring event in August.

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The AJC's Tyler Estep keeps you updated on the latest happenings in Gwinnett County government and politics. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

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