Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons lands acting, advising role on Fox cop drama ‘Deputy’
FRISCO — Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons bleeds blue. A dedicated law enforcement officer for three decades, his career has taken him from busting gangs and drug runners on the streets of Los Angeles to taking charge of Summit County’s emergency responses — through wildfires and avalanches — over the past few years.
But FitzSimons is also well known for a budding career in Hollywood, where he has served as a law enforcement technical adviser and performed acting roles for 15 years. On Thursday evening, FitzSimons made his television debut on the new primetime Fox cop drama, “Deputy,” in which he served as an adviser for the pilot and was featured in a brief acting role in the opening scene.
With the latest gig, FitzSimons now has 15 film credits to his name on IMDB, serving as an adviser on movies including Jake Gyllenhaal-led crime thrillers “End of Watch,” “Prisoners” and “Nightcrawler” in addition to coaching Will Smith on how to be an LA patrol cop in the Netflix flick “Bright.” As far as acting, he also has performed a variety of roles in movies like “End of Watch,” “Sabotage,” “Fury” and “Suicide Squad.”
“After a while, you build up a resume and become sought after,” FitzSimons said about the multiple roles he’s landed. “You see the number of police shows out there, and whether it be television or movies, the bar is constantly being raised for specifics and accuracy of the portrayal of these characters.”
In “Deputy,” FitzSimons plays Commander Clarke, a tough disciplinarian who reams the star character, Deputy Sheriff Bill Hollister played by Stephen Dorff, for refusing to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In the scene, Hollister has been summoned in front of a tribunal of his superiors for refusing to send detained undocumented immigrants to ICE custody for deportation proceedings.
FitzSimons’ character and the other head honchos are angry because Hollister’s actions led to the loss of a lucrative federal grant for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Hollister, a member of the department’s mounted posse, stands firm and ready to face the consequences for his principles.
A few scenes later, though, the tables get turned. The sheriff suffers a heart attack and dies, and Hollister suddenly finds himself being sworn in as the sheriff of Los Angeles County. His first order of business is to fire a bemused Commander Clarke.
FitzSimons consulted for and acted in only the pilot, which he filmed in March. He said the situation Dorff’s character faces was reminiscent of his own tenure with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, when former Sheriff John Minor left the office in 2016 to become Silverthorne’s police chief, and FitzSimons was elevated from operations commander to his first appointment as sheriff.
One of FitzSimons’ first actions as sheriff was to fire Deputy Sheriff Derek Woodman, as Woodman had affirmed his intention to run against FitzSimons in the next county sheriff election, an allowed course of action as a conflict of interest in the chain of command could present a public safety issue.
FitzSimons’ career and expertise lends him the kind of authenticity that Hollywood craves, and it allows him to work through challenges he’s faced in his own career by helping actors and other members of the filmmaking crew get educated on what it means to be a police officer.
“For me, it’s a creative outlet, both the technical advising and the acting,” FitzSimons said. “I can use my experience in policing to help inform characters in these movies or TV shows, and it’s a really unique opportunity to see a little piece of me on the screen. For me, it’s also creative therapy, to be able to work through some things while teaching actors how to be authentic. They’re like sponges; they absorb it all.”
In the past, FitzSimons had received criticism from his political opponent Woodman and Woodman’s supporters for his Hollywood career, even being heckled by an audience member with the label “Hollywood!” during a debate in the 2018 county sheriff election.
FitzSimons was indignant at the criticism, considering it to be “political campaign nonsense” that was never relevant and in the past, as far as he was concerned. He pointed to his body of work as sheriff as the proof he needed that his acting and advising roles had zero impact on his performance as sheriff.
“I consider it a dead issue,” FitzSimons said. “If you look at my body of work, try holding anything up to that. None of that criticism holds any water. Anybody in the community, any stakeholder, anyone I work with will say that I work 24/7 for this community.”
FitzSimons also pointed out that most people in Summit working full time have a second or third job, and he was no different with his side career. FitzSimons made no apologies for successfully navigating two careers.
“I am extremely proud of what I do for this community as well as the work I do for the motion picture industry,” FitzSimons said.
The first episode of “Deputy” premiered Jan. 2 and is available to stream in its entirety online. “Deputy” will air at 8 p.m. Thursdays this season on Fox 31.