ASHE COUNTY — Plans for a third season of the National Geographic show, Southern Justice, is currently in the works.
Southern Justice, which returned for a second season earlier this summer on July 15, features law enforcement agencies in Ashe County and Sullivan County, Tenn., by following deputies responding to routine calls.
“One thing I wanted people to see is what a tough job these guys and girls have got out here, how dangerous it can be sometimes,” Ashe County Sheriff James Williams said. “This gives them a real bird’s eye view of how it actually is.”
Williams said the show portrays real situations law enforcement of Ashe County deal with on a regular basis.
“They are strictly a fly on a wall. There is nothing ever staged about it, Williams said. “What you see, is what it is.”
Williams said that it is possible that there will only be one more season of the reality show despite an original five year contract with National Geographic and the show’s high ratings.
According to Williams, National Geographic is moving away from law enforcement programs, but because of high ratings from Southern Justice, the network wants to do another eight episodes. Williams said filming could begin as early as October.
Williams said he has received mostly positive feedback of Southern Justice from viewers from all over the country.
“We get calls, e-mails and people coming by the office that have traveled here from other state that just want to come by and meet the guys and see the county,” Williams said. “They talk about how pretty the county is and that they love the way the law enforcement works here.”
Despite a few negative comments, Williams said many people talk about their love of the show and how they can’t wait for next week’s episode.
Earlier in May, a petition to remove Southern Justice off the air was started by Holly Parmer of Kingsport, Tenn. which is located in Sullivan County where a portion of the show is filmed.
Parmer stated that the show was exploiting people who live in the Appalachian region for TV ratings. According to www.change.org, only 62 people were in support of the petition.
Williams addressed comments a few viewers have made about Southern Justice portraying Ashe County in a negative light.
“In my opinion, it shows we got a decent county, crime rate and good law enforcement,” Williams said.
According to Williams, the Sheriff’s Department has a good working relationship with the crew that has been filming Southern Justice, which is produced by Electus and the Weinstein Company.
“They were a little apprehensive about it to begin with,” Williams said. “When you’re at work and there’s somebody riding with you with a TV camera all the time, its a little intimidating at first. But they got used to it and they’ve gotten to be good friends with the camera crew.”
“We’re honored to continue to work so closely with the law enforcement groups that allowed unprecedented access to their agencies and jails,” Electus CEO Chris Grant said.
“We’ve enjoyed doing it,” Williams said. “It’s been quite an experience.”
According to Williams, they received $35,000 for season one from National Geographic and $5,000 per episode for season two.
Southern Justice airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on National Geographic.
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.