Farmington police officer Steven Kuyper has worked as a school resource officer and is on the city’s planning commission. Lately, he’s seen another task added to his job: reading news at a desk inside a makeshift television studio.
The Farmington and Rosemount police departments joined Apple Valley’s 15-year-old public access show earlier this year. “Valley Beat,” which airs every two months on government access channels 180 and 188 in the three cities, will expand further to include their fire departments by early 2016.
“It’s harder to read off of a teleprompter than you think,” Kuyper said. “So when I watch shows now, I give them more kudos.”
Adding Farmington and Rosemount to the public safety show is a result of the cities’ desire to use public access television more, said Mark Moore, cable coordinator for the three cities.
Apple Valley has produced shows featuring its police and fire departments since 1999.
On “Valley Beat,” officers are assigned to host each show and produce stories in the field. Recent features included summer safety tips, countywide traffic enforcement efforts and a look at how each department planned to provide security for upcoming annual festivals.
“Most of the time when people have interaction with police officers or firefighters, it’s generally not at a good time,” Moore said. “So we try to give them a different experience.”
Rosemount Police Chief Mitch Scott spent 18 years at the Apple Valley Police Department, where he helped produce stories for “Valley Beat.” Scott said joining Farmington and Apple Valley for a show was an easy decision. Rosemount may soon create Facebook and Twitter pages much like the city’s neighboring agencies.
“Any tool you have to reach out to the community is a great resource for us,” Scott said.
Farmington Police Chief Brian Lindquist said it was Apple Valley’s years of experience producing a television show that sold him on the idea.
“I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Lindquist said. “There was no reason not to do it.”
The show will continue to evolve in the next 18 months, Moore said, beginning with a rebranding that will produce a new name to incorporate the additional departments.
The show now begins with officers reading news items inside a studio at Apple Valley Municipal Center. Then each police chief addresses the public in a short segment.
One or two longer stories then close out the final 20 minutes. The first feature of the newly combined show looked at the ways Dakota County police departments and its sheriff’s office collaborate.
Public access television tends to get a bad rap for being dull, Moore said. But he wants his programs to compete with local news shows, or the History and SyFy channels.
“I want this product to look good enough and the production to be professional enough where viewers want to watch us,” Moore said.
Stephen Montemayor • 952-746-3282