From small town business to big time TV show, Ringgold-based JJK Security and Investigations will enter the homes of millions of viewers as a documentary about the local security business airs July 15 on AMC.
Episodes of the documentary series "Small Town Security" show real life scenarios encountered in security work.
"For a long time people would come in here and see this crazy place and the way we acted," said JJK Security and Investigations co-owner Chief Joan Koplan, a native of New Jersey who now resides in Ringgold. "They said it should be a reality show."
So she sent Matthew Saul of Beverly Hills, Calif., a DVD. He referred her to Left Right Productions out of New York, which accepted the job. Filming took two years.
"When [the show's executive producer] Ken Druckerman told me we got AMC, I about fell in the floor," said Koplan, adding that Left Right and AMC staff have been very professional. "It's almost like a dream, really."
JJK Security and Investigations administrative assistant Christa Stephens, a Ringgold resident who's "the talker" of the show, said it will produce a "roller coaster of emotions."
"A lot of startling things come about in the show," said Koplan. "A lot of secrets will come out and people will say, "I don't believe this, oh boy.' Everything you see is real."
She noted that the show incorporates some sexual references, interesting language and noises, but said it's all part of what makes the JJK Security and Investigations team the dysfunctional family it has become since the company was founded in 1984.
"There's nothing on TV like this show," said JJK private investigator Brian Taylor. "It's very heartwarming, funny and dramatic. AMC is bringing something new and unique to TV."
The show will reflect that the team fights, said Stephens, but "when you've messed with one of us, you've messed with all of us." She thinks of Koplan as her second mother and said they get along like mother and daughter, with all the ups and downs.
A typical day at JJK Security and Investigations involves Stephens running a little behind to work, operations manager Lt. Dennis Croft keeping the security officers in line, private investigator Taylor serving papers to someone, co-owner Capt. Irwin Koplan smiling and handling the sales and his wife shouting things to keep people in line and laughing at the same time.
"Sometimes I open the door when the train comes by and shout, 'Stop the train and left Jack off!'" said Chief Koplan.
Taylor said there's never a dull moment on the show, but when it's time to get down to business everyone does well.
"In private investigator work you have to change your appearance and sometimes hide in the bushes," he said. "We serve legal documents for divorce, foreclosure or to someone that owes $10,000 in credit cards. The bulk of the business is security guard work, though. Lt. Croft oversees our 62 security officers."
The team of officers runs security for events and local businesses.
"We are all so different and yet we work together and get the job done," said Stephens. "We don't want to lead people to believe we are nutcases. When it comes to our guards outside we mean business. It's not fun and games at all. Lt. Croft does a good job. We are the best of the best as far as I'm concerned."