Yes, A&E’s ‘The First 48’ Is Always in Tulsa, and That’s Why the Show’s Lasted This Long

Brittany Frederick - Author

Jun. 22 2022, Published 11:17 p.m. ET

Tulsa Det. Justin Ritter on "The First 48."
Source: A&E

Tulsa Det. Justin Ritter on 'The First 48'

A&E's The First 48 is one of the earliest and most well-known true crime series, having aired for 22 seasons over almost two decades. Having premiered on June 3, 2004, the show recently celebrated its 18th anniversary. Nowadays, it's closely associated with Tulsa, Oklahoma, as the Tulsa Police Department homicide unit has become the unquestioned center of the program.

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Between the popularity of Tulsa Homicide's outstanding detectives and the fact that A&E airs reruns almost every day, it seems like The First 48 is always in Tulsa. Why does the show film there more than any other current city? And how long exactly has Tulsa been on The First 48?

Keep reading to get the answers to those common questions and find out more about fans' favorite police department.

Tulsa Dets. Ronnie Leatherman (left) and Jason White (center) on "The First 48."
Source: A&E

Tulsa Dets. Ronnie Leatherman (left) and Jason White (center) on 'The First 48'

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Why is 'The First 48' always in Tulsa?

It might seem like The First 48 is always in Tulsa, but Tulsa Homicide has only been featured since 2015. They debuted in Season 16, Episode 2, entitled "Ringside Seat" and featuring Det. Jason White investigating a shooting at a motel.

Over the last seven years, Tulsa has become a huge part of why The First 48 is still on the air. Viewers have embraced the team, which includes (but is not limited to) Det. White, Det. John Brown, Det. Mark Kennedy, Sgt. Nathan Schilling and Lt. Brandon Watkins.

The Tulsa Homicide squad closes the majority of their cases, their detectives are great professionals, and personality-wise, they're people an audience wants to follow.

With true crime fans enjoying watching the Tulsa detectives at work, there's every reason for A&E to continue filming in the city. After all, that's who brings viewers back each week. Tulsa has now filmed dozens of episodes for The First 48, including eight of the 16 episodes in the current Season 22.

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Another reason there are so many Tulsa episodes is the department's consistency. Over 18 years, it's natural that cities would come and go from The First 48. Some have left because they'd run their course while others have stopped filming for various reasons.

None of the original departments from Season 1 — Miami, Florida; Kansas City, Kansas; Kansas City, Missouri; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Phoenix, Arizona, and Detroit, Michigan — are still being featured.

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The production has clearly built up a rapport with the city of Tulsa and its police department, and that's a good thing. Having at least one consistent homicide squad on the show creates familiarity for the audience and gives stability and continuity to the show. The First 48 would be much less interesting if viewers didn't know where they were or who they were following every week.

Tulsa Homicide has proven themselves to be standouts, so they're perfect to build the show around.

Source: A&E/YouTube
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What are the other 'The First 48' filming locations?

As of the current Season 22, The First 48 only has three filming locations. Other than Tulsa, it's also filming in Mobile, Alabama with the Mobile Police Department homicide unit, and in Gwinnett County, Georgia with the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office.

Mobile has been with the series since the last episode of Season 18, while Gwinnett County joined the roster in Season 20, making Tulsa the longest-tenured department on The First 48.

Fans have constantly asked about other favorite locations like New Orleans and Atlanta, but as of now, there are no plans to add another department (new or old) to the show.

And with the success of Tulsa, it's not strictly necessary. The Oklahoma homicide detectives bring more than enough interest to the series with their intriguing cases and admirable policing.

The First 48 airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on A&E.

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