Agency suggests changes after 'Cops' crewman's death

AP News
|
Posted: Feb 17, 2015 6:05 PM

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A federal agency on Tuesday called for additional training and safety instructions for crew members of the long-running TV show "Cops" in response to the shooting death of an audio technician last summer in Omaha.

Bryce Dion, 38, of Boston, was killed Aug. 26 while filming an attempted armed robbery at a fast-food restaurant when a stray bullet from an Omaha police officer slipped past his bulletproof vest. The robbery suspect was also killed. Authorities later said the weapon he was carrying turned out to be a pellet gun.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the shooting and issued the guidelines but did not issue any citations or penalties.

In the letter to Langley Productions, OSHA recommended teaching employees how to film from a distance when there is gunfire in the area, taking precautionary measures when deciding whether to accompany law enforcement into crime scenes and removing bonus incentives that encourage employees to take risks to capture more action-packed stories.

"We believe these are actions they can take to prevent accidents like this from happening," said Bonita Winingham, OSHA's area director in Omaha.

Langley Productions released a statement saying the company intends to implement the recommendations and establish "even stricter procedures and policies to avoid any unforeseen tragedy in the future."

Winingham has requested that the company respond to OSHA by March 31 with a letter outlining how it plans to address the agency's concerns. The agency will then evaluate any new policies and training methods as they are employed.

"Cops" is a reality TV show that has depicted law enforcement officers in action since it premiered in 1989. According to its website, the show airs on Fox and has been filmed in at least 140 U.S. cities and three foreign countries.

Executives with the Santa Monica, California-based Langley Productions said the incident in Omaha was the first fatal shooting to occur while filming.