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Spike TV aims lens at Merced County Sheriff's deputies

Somebody once said the most dangerous place to be in Merced County is between Sheriff Mark Pazin and a television camera.

Well, watch out: The cable television network Spike TV has cameras following Pazin and his deputies for a new reality show pilot.

The show, called "The Sheriff," pairs martial arts expert Tony Schiena and his team with sheriff's departments across America, introducing law enforcement officers to "lethal" hand-to-hand combat techniques and new surveillance methods.

Sheriff's spokesman Tom Mackenzie confirmed the presence of Spike TV's cameras at the sheriff's office, but declined further comment, saying all sheriff's employees had to sign nondisclosure agreements about the show. Pazin declined an interview with the Sun-Star.

Spike TV spokesman David Schwarz said the show started filming in Merced last week. "Once we shoot the show, Spike TV will take a look at it, and there's a chance it'll get picked up," he said.

A news release dated May 12 announced development of "The Sheriff" along with several other nonscripted television shows aimed at the network's core audience of men ages 18-34.

According to the release, the National Sheriff's Association gave Schiena, a retired world-champion mixed-martial-arts fighter, the job of teaching new crime-fighting techniques and skills to its branches. Each week, Schiena and his team will visit a different sheriff's department facing a different problem.

Schiena has worked with police agencies around the world, according to the biography on his official website. He's appeared in several feature films, including 2004's "The Merchant of Venice."

"The Sheriff" is the second reality show to be filmed in Merced. Last month, Jason Vogel, the new owner of Big Bubba's Bad-to-the-Bone BBQ in downtown Merced, announced that he was filming a pilot for a reality show about the restaurant.

Online editor Brandon Bowers can be reached at or (209) 385-2464.

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