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A decade after city's ban, television show 'Cops' is returning to the Albuquerque area

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A decade after Albuquerque's mayor banned "Cops" from filming in New Mexico's largest city, the reality show is returning.

But this time, it is partnering with the county. And a spokeswoman for current Mayor Richard Berry made it clear the city still wants no part in the show that follows officers making drug busts and responding to calls in mostly run-down, crime-ridden neighbourhoods.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston said Thursday that the show will begin filming with his department in April for its 26th season, to air this summer.

One of television's original reality shows, "Cops" used to film Albuquerque police officers. But former Mayor Martin Chavez put an end to that partnership more than a decade ago, saying the show portrayed the city in a bad light.

A spokeswoman for current Mayor Richard Berry says the city was not approached about participating when the production returns.

"Had we been," said Erin Thompson, "Mayor Berry has made it clear that he would have declined, as he is concentrating his efforts on opportunities to highlight Albuquerque as a centre of innovation, arts and diversity which we believe will bring consistently positive attention to Albuquerque as a model place to live and do business. "

While the show has become one of the longest-running in U.S. history, it has over the years drawn fire from critics who say it shows street crime without putting it in a broader context of contributing social conditions.

Houston said the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department is excited to be part of the show. It's a great way to showcase the county's high quality deputies, he said.

The Albuquerque Police Department, meantime, is struggling to repair its reputation. The department currently is under a U.S. Justice Department civil rights investigation into allegations of excessive force and three dozen shootings by officers since 2010.

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