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Erik Burgess, Published November 18 2013

Fake Minnesota cop cars cruise streets of Calgary for 'Fargo' filming

CALGARY, Alberta – Residents here might have to look twice over the next six months if they think they witnessed a bank robbery, a police shootout or a cop car with Minnesota plates squealing by.

It all comes with the territory as the upcoming TV miniseries “Fargo” completes filming in Calgary, said Kevin Brookwell, a spokesman for the Calgary Police Service.

The 10-episode miniseries based on the acclaimed 1996 movie should finish shooting in April or May, Brookwell said.

He said Calgary, which is nestled in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, is used to having camera crews in the city, but he said the “Fargo” series, with its focus on small-town law enforcement, is unique.

“There’s going to be a lot of scenes involving police,” he said. “We get notified of things like: There’s going to be gunfire, or there’s going to be a lot of smoke, or there’s going to be a short police chase.”

While roads are usually closed during shoots, Brookwell said police might still get calls from concerned residents, so his office takes information from the production crew and shares it with the 911 call center and the public.

The Calgary Police Service sent out a notice to the public last week via social media that Calgarians might see police vehicles from Duluth and Bemidji, Minn., patrolling the streets. Cruisers from the two Minnesota towns are being featured in the series, Brookwell said.

Brookwell said comments were flooding in via social media asking why American police cars were suddenly patrolling in Calgary.

On the Calgary Police Service Facebook page, one person asked if Calgarians have to pull to the side of the road for the Minnesota cop cars. The answer was simply “no.”

Brookwell said the overhead lights on the American cop cars will be covered if they are driving around town. Calgary police do the same when their vehicles are off-duty or going through maintenance, he said.

“We just asked if they were going to be covered so that the public didn’t end up waving down a movie prop car in the event of an emergency,” Brookwell said.

Brookwell said some scenes will be shot near downtown Calgary in the next couple of weeks.

“I think it’s going to be interesting,” he said. “There will be a lot of activity in and around the area here for the next few months.”

The “Fargo” series will debut on FX in the spring. Joel and Ethan Coen, who wrote and directed the 1996 movie, are the show’s executive producers, and the series will star Colin Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Oliver Platt, Kate Walsh, Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman.

The show’s crew announced earlier this year they would shoot the series in Canada, which offers various tax incentives for film and TV production. The movie version of “Fargo” was filmed largely in Minnesota.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518