Thursday, February 05, 2009

Set Your TiVos!

Birmingham hits the big time tonight as the city's homicide detectives are featured on A&E's "The First 48".

Apparently, the reporters who composed the story for thought they were writing noir:

With the brooding city streets of one of the nation's most violent cities as its backdrop, Birmingham homicide detectives will step out of the shadows tonight and into the light of America's cultural consciousness.

These are the detectives who, in anonymity, regularly investigate the murders in Birmingham's back streets and alleys, its barrooms and bedrooms, beds of burned-out pickup trucks and parked cars.

Beginning tonight on A&E they will be anonymous no more. Birmingham will be in the national spotlight as the city's grizzled homicide detectives make their small-screen debut on the popular television show "The First 48."

Brooding streets? Grizzled detectives? Really?


The case featured in tonight's episode is a heartbreaker: the 2007 murder of 19-year-old Demarcus Ferrell by 21-year-old Antonio Rodriguez Spencer. I don't mean to take away from the seriousness of the crime or the pain of the family, but I was struck by the cognitive dissonance reflected here:
It started with whispers throughout the community and ended with the capital murder arrest of 21-year-old Antonio Rodriguez Spencer, all in the first 48 hours of the case. An informant described Spencer like this: "He's mean. He's mean like a rattlesnake."

Detective Eric Torrence said it was challenging because as hard as they were working to solve it, Spencer was working just as hard to prevent his neighbors from snitching.

"It was a race between me convincing the witnesses to talk to me and him trying to get them not to," Torrence said. "The good guys won the race."

Detective Jerry Williams said the cameras haven't been a problem.

"A lot of witnesses were excited about being on 'The First 48,'" Williams said.

Again with the "really?" Witnesses were afraid to talk for fear of retaliation -- until they saw the TV cameras?

Anyway, I know where I'll be at 8 PM (CST) tonight. I wouldn't miss those "grizzled" detectives for anything.

Cross-posted at Birmingham Blues