Live PD canceled by A&E after protests
Live PD has been canceled.
A&E has decided to end its top-rated series in the wake of widespread protests against police brutality and racism.
“This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on Live PD," A&E said in a statement Wednesday evening. "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.”
Live PD host Dan Abrams tweeted that he was "shocked & beyond disappointed" about the cancellation. "To the loyal #LivePDNation please know I, we, did everything we could to fight for you, and for our continuing effort at transparency in policing. I was convinced the show would go on."
The move comes one day after Paramount Network canceled the iconic series Cops after 31 years on the air. Civil rights advocacy organization Color of Change called on A&E to cancel Live PD as well. "For more than 30 years, Cops has miseducated the public and normalized injustice," said Color of Change vice president Arisha Hatch in a statement provided to EW. "Crime television encourages the public to accept the norms of over-policing and excessive force and reject reform, while supporting the exact behavior that destroys the lives of Black people. Cops led the way, pushing troubling implications for generations of viewers. Now it’s time for other networks to cancel similarly harmful shows. We call on A&E to cancel Live PD next. In a moment when everyone wants to proclaim that Black Lives Matter, we must hold these companies accountable to put actions to words with a complete industry overhaul."
Live PD was a successor of sorts to Cops and had a somewhat similar format. The show, launched in 2016, jumped between real-time police on patrol in various cities. Unlike Cops, however, the show is typically the top-rated cable series on Friday and Saturday nights, with one episode last summer delivering a series-high 2.4 million viewers. Just last month, A&E renewed the series for 160 additional episodes.
The cancellation also comes amid a controversy brewing around Live PD after it filmed the death of a black man in police custody in Texas. The show filmed — and then destroyed — footage showing the death of 40-year-old Javier Ambler, who was tased several times after a police chase 15 months ago. Just hours ago, A&E issued a statement defending the show's handling of the issue.
“Video of the tragic death of Javier Ambler was captured by body cams worn on the officers involved as well by the producers of Live PD who were riding with certain officers involved," A&E said in a statement to EW. "The incident did not occur while Live PD was on the air but rather during the show’s hiatus, when producers are regularly out in the field gathering footage. The footage never aired on Live PD per A&E’s standards and practices because it involved a fatality."
A&E goes on to explain why the show destroyed the video of Ambler's death in police custody.
"Immediately after the incident, the Austin Police Department conducted an investigation using the bodycam footage they had from the officers," A&E's statement continued. "Contrary to many incorrect reports, neither A&E nor the producers of Live PD were asked for the footage or an interview by investigators from law enforcement or the District Attorney’s office. 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. As with all calls we follow, we are not there to be an arm of the police or law enforcement but rather to chronicle what they do and air some of that footage and our policies were in place to avoid having footage used by law enforcement against private citizens.”
To help combat systemic racism, please consider donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero, which is dedicated to ending police brutality in America through research-based strategies.
- Color of Change, which works to move decision makers in corporations and government to be more responsive to racial disparities.
- Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal services to people who have been wrongly convicted, denied a fair trial, or abused in state jails and prisons.