Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Vernon Bourgeois says it’s no problem that his department doesn’t have a contract with the production company filming a planned A&E reality show called “Cajun Blue.”
Records show taxpayers have had to cover the $1,000 insurance deductible after a deputy wrecked a patrol car while filming, and a public records request from The Courier and Daily Comet didn’t turn up any contracts, spending records or receipts connected to the show, the newspapers report.
Bourgeois has acknowledged that the Sheriff’s Office, using local tax money, has footed the bill for gas and has used its boats, patrol cars and equipment to stage scenes for the series.
The filmmakers have agreed to pay the Sheriff’s Office about $1,500 each for 13 episodes, regardless of whether they air, he said.
“We have just discussed this,” Bourgeois said. “They totally agree; there are no issues on contracts.”
He is retiring at the end of June. Former sheriff and sheriff-elect Jerry Larpenter has said he will end the department’s involvement in the series when he takes office.
“I don’t think the Sheriff’s Office needs to be in the movie business,” Larpenter said, adding that he’s unimpressed with what he’s heard about the show and seen in an online preview.
“We’ve assisted movie companies in the past, but actually portraying the sheriff in an untrue role, I’m not into that,” he said.
“Cajun Blue,” set to debut on A&E sometime between April and June, has been in production since July 2010. The show, according to the cable network, is a “real-life series” in which Terrebonne sheriff’s deputies cover “2,000 square miles of Louisiana swampland as they investigate thousands of violent crimes every year in the creepy, eerie bayou. And with the personalities of the local Cajuns, no police call is routine.”
The show will feature Bourgeois, as well as several deputies and parish residents.
A five-minute preview clip, created earlier this year, was posted on the website of Aero Film, a company owned by Los Angeles-based filmmaker Ken Arlidge. The show is produced by Arlidge, as well as MAK Pictures and A&E. Arlidge said the clip was used as a sales tool and is not part of the show. It has since been removed from Aero Film’s website.
While filming June 25, deputy Aaron Ledet – pretending to answer a crime call – crashed his patrol car into a telephone guy wire and stop sign, according to a Sheriff’s Office crash report.
The car cost more than $3,000 to repair, according to Sheriff’s Office paperwork. The department paid a $1,000 deductible and the rest was covered by insurance. Repairs included work on the bumper and radiator.
Bourgeois said the crash was an isolated instance and that there have been no other problems during filming. He attributed the wreck to the mistake of a “rookie deputy” and said “we are not going to do that again.”
“If it happens again, they have insurance to fix it,” Bourgeois said of the production company.
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