On September 20, 2012, Executive Producer John Kim took to Facebook and Twitter to answer questions from fans of The First 48. Here are the results.
Justin Williams: How long and how much film does it take to record one episode? Do you have different cameramen that stay at the department or on location in the city, so like whenever there is a homicide they are always there as soon as the detectives get the call?
John Kim: Our film crew are on-call 24/7. They oftentimes spend months, sometimes years, in one location filming. A typical episode takes anywhere from several days to several weeks to film the majority of the investigation.
Pete Burke: I’m curious as to how you happen to be filming when tips come in 3 weeks later. Do you happen to be filing another episode? Or do you have to recreate that moment?
John Kim: Our film crew, much like the detectives, are working on multiple cases simultaneously and are constantly filming. Even if a tip comes in 3 weeks after the murder, they are at headquarters filming non-stop.
Jonathan Hobby: Why do you show cases where the murders get off scott free or the detectives leave the case unsolved?
John Kim: Unlike fictional shows, many cases go unsolved. Sometimes it helps to publicize a cold case to get the viewers’ help in solving the crime.
Jesse Casper: If you could add one city to the show, which one would it be?
John Kim: New Orleans. They have a department filled with hard-working detectives in a city that has a lot of character and stories. We hope to be filming with them soon.
Bill Lewis: What is the toughest part of doing the show?
John Kim: Oftentimes we experience the same things that the detectives experience. We are witness to some of the most horrific things human beings can do. Learning to deal with that is an ongoing process.
Nicole Ethier: Have you ever had resistance from the officers/detectives who work in the precincts in which you are filming?
John Kim: Not all officers are comfortable being in front of the camera, and we respect that. We either don’t film or blur the faces of officers who do not want to appear on camera.
Eric Krause: I love this show and it is my all time favorite crime show but I have to ask out of all the cases that you guys have done which was the most unforgettable?
John Kim: While so many murders have left searing memories for everyone working on the show, cases where little children are the victims are the ones we could never forget. The most tragic part is that they have their whole lives ahead of them and were taken away in an instant.
Yvonne Morales: Do police dept find this show helpful, and has a case been solved after airing because the dept saw something they missed while filming?
John Kim: Several episodes have led to the suspects being caught and cases being solved. But most importantly, police departments want to show that the detectives are working their butts off on behalf of the communities that they serve.
Sean Cornejo: How much of what you film is actual as it happens and how much is set up and filmed to fill in what happened?
John Kim: We don’t ever set up a scene to be filmed for the program. We just follow the investigations as they unfold. That’s what makes the show authentic.
Denise Perez: Have you ever filmed a murder case that ended up being too emotional or traumatizing to show in an episode?
John Kim: No. In the end, all murders are heartbreaking and traumatizing. Whether the victim is an innocent bystander or a gang member or a child, it is traumatic for everyone who is affected by it.
Chelsea Lee: How do you choose which murders to send your crew to?
John Kim: In many cities, homicide detectives respond to all death scenes. And so do we. If the death is determined to be a homicide, then we start following the case.
Yolanda Notyouraverage Springs: I have never seen so many ppl so eager to snitch. How do u make dez ppl tell cause I’m from port. Va. An where I’m from snitches get stitches
John Kim: Helping the police to put a killer behind bars and bring closure to the grieving families is not snitching. It is being responsible.
Edwin J Clair: Due to the nature of the program and topic, are privacy rights protected for family members during these difficult times? Do they ever request no cameras?
John Kim: We respect the family’s wishes at all times. Period. Some families do not want to be filmed. Some families want to tell their stories.
Frenchetta Bell: Have you or your crew ever felt that someone is not telling the truth?
John Kim: No. People tell the truth all the time. No seriously. Our crews sometimes play the role of detectives and can see for themselves when suspects are not being truthful.
Trenton Hiatt: Why don’t you bring the show to New Orleans?
John Kim: We have been talking to them and there is a very good chance that will happen.
John Motes: Has any of your footage been used as evidence in court?
John Kim: No. We protect our raw footage like journalists protect their notebooks.
Yanique Heat-Wade Sainvil: When is Kevin Ruggiero coming back on “The First 48?”
John Kim: October 4th. It’s going to be one of the best “First 48” episodes ever.
Solomon Monette: Luv the UPDATE shows do you plan on a lot more?
John Kim: Absolutely. We have aired more than 50 updates and we plan to air just as many in the coming year.
Dustin Willis: When can we see Detective Joe Schillaci again? He made that show!
John Kim: We are working with Joe to explore future television possibilities.
Steve Thompson: Have you ever been told not to show something during the filming of the episodes?
John Kim: First 48 tries to be responsible and be careful to consider the impact of the show on the ongoing investigations and trials to come. We want to make sure that the justice system runs its course without interference.
Steve Thompson asked: Have any of your crew ever been in serious danger during filming?
John Kim: No, because they are always around police officers who are armed, which is the safest place to be.
A lot of you have been asking how we choose the cities we shoot in.
John Kim: The cities that we shoot in are the cities that give us access. We are open to shooting in other cities, but it is ultimately up to the police department to give us access. For instance, we just started shooting in Rochester, NY.
A note from John Kim: Thank you for all your questions, and my apologies for not getting to all of them. I am truly honored to have such devoted fans to my show. Keep watching!