BLM, local police react after Live PD was canceled
The wildly popular show on A&E, Live PD, has stopped all production after the controversy surfaced this week while film crews were on an active scene last year.
The move comes after the Paramount Network canceled the long-running show Cops, amid protests after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day.
Last year, film crews in Austin, Texas were taping officers in a pursuit with Javier Ambler, 40.
After the chase stopped, officers used a stun gun on Ambler, a black man, multiple times, all while pleading with officers that he felt sick and couldn’t breathe, according to reports from the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV.
Live PD cameras were rolling, but per the show’s policy, the film was destroyed, causing outrage across the country.
A&E announced the show’s cancellation on Wednesday.
“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 to ABC News. “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.”
Mark Fisher with Black Lives Matter Rhode Island said shows like Live PD and Cops should have been off the air for years.
Fisher believes the portrayal of use-of-force in an entertainment setting is not helping reform.
“Makes it acceptable. So what we’re trying to say is it’s not acceptable, it never has been, and it never will be. I never understood why police brutality was so acceptable in this country,” Fisher said. “It desensitizes us.”
Fisher said that people who watch the show watch it for one reason, as he heard from a white friend of his a few years back.
“He loved watching other people get roughed up. But he didn’t understand that most of the roughing up was being done to my people,” he said.
The Warwick and East Providence Police Departments both had short stints on the show.
Chief William Nebus with East Providence said when the department was approached by Live PD to be a featured department, they agreed because they wanted to be as transparent as possible.
“Transparency is such an issue nationwide and even in this community too. If we had said no what would that have looked like on our part,” he said. “We’ll continue to be transparent after Live PD.”
Nebus added that it acted as a crime deterrent for people.
Officer Craig Sroka was one of the featured patrolmen for East Providence on the show and said he believes the community benefited from being shown every week.
“Show the community what we deal with every day even when it’s boring, busy, or indifferent. It gave a real perspective on police work and what 99.9 percent of us do every day,” Sroka said. “The way we dealt with everyone on Live PD is the way we deal with people with the camera on or the camera off. It never changed a single thing.”
East Providence Police said it is considering adding body cameras to be transparent with citizens.
The Warwick Police Department declined to comment.