Industry site Deadline is reporting that Live PD, one of America’s top-rated ‘reality’ shows is no more. The cable series which follows several police-forces and officers around the US as they go about their patrols in real-time has proven to be a massive ratings winner in recent years. Though it occasionally featured both foot pursuits and car chases, a majority of the show had a more routine but sometimes just as interesting side of the patrols with the officers dealing with domestic disturbances, drunks and thefts. In recent months, due to the COVID-19 situation, the ‘studio’ aspect of the show had to be dialed back with the presenters anchoring their links from home and the sophisticated hub which had the duty of monitoring proceedings was all done remotely. However it continued to work well under the circumstances.
In the immediate aftermath of the George Floyd murder and the national (and international) outrage of police brutality, it was felt that last week’s shows should be cancelled – though it was presumed the show would return (“To all of you asking whether #LivePD coming back. . .The answer is yes,” host Dan Abrams reported on twitter at the time. “All of us associated with the show are as committed to it as ever. We are still discussing some specifics but I want to assure the #LivePDNation that we are not abandoning you.”
But this Wednesday morning, less than a month after celebrating a 160-episode renewal, it was announced that would not be happening – largely, it seems, because it was impossible to keep featuring the format due to both ethical and pragmatic safety issues given the current volatile and rapidly-shifting tensions.
The statement from A&E and MGM’s Big Fish Entertainment reads: “This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on Live PD. Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them. And with that, we will be meeting with community and civil rights leaders as well as police departments.”
There had been some controversies that added to the situation. Local outlet Austin American-Statesman reported two days ago that the death of Javier Ambler in police custody in March 2019, was recorded by a Live PD crew that was with the patrol at the time… and showed him being repeatedly tasered after the end of a 20 minute chase which began when he did not dim his lights. However the show confirmed the video has been destroyed and had also not been requested as part of the investigation. (“As is the case with all footage taken by Live PD producers, we no longer retained the unaired footage after learning that the investigation had concluded,” the network said in a statement).
The surprise cancellation of Live PD also comes soon after the other well known show COPS, also an A&E production, was also announced to be gone.