If Cops and NFL RedZone had a baby, it would look exactly like Live PD: a couple hours of an in-studio host and a some analysts narrating the action as we check in live on police departments around the country as they dispense justice. If that traffic stop in South Carolina gets a little boring, you can hop right over to the domestic dispute in Texas, where tensions are high over a clogged toilet (spoiler alert: she was the one who clogged it).
Dan Abrams, a legal analyst for ABC News, offers play-by-play from the safety of a control booth in New York, where a team of people are monitoring live feeds from all over the country. Abrams will occasionally turn to Tom Morris, Jr. and Sergeant Sean “Sticks” Larkin for their thoughts on what exactly is happening.
Live PD offers a fascinating study of how different people respond to being engaged (or detained) by the police. You can be forgiven if your initial reaction is to assume everyone is lying, even if the show encourages you to remember that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
There are of course the hostile drunks; the arrogant, condescending drunks; the spaced out drunks; the junkies who just can’t believe how bad their luck is; the terrified spouses; the overly ingratiating, too talkative types… the list goes on. Oh, and how can we forget the young woman with the large knife in her boot (“for fashion and protection”) who is just delighted when she steps out of her car and sees the camera — like a kid on Christmas, I haven’t been that happy in years.
The show also offers a window into how different officers deal with suspects. Some are easygoing and compassionate, others are, at least to the armchair quarterback’s eye, more aggressive and physical than necessary. And the whole premise of the show seems to put the lie to the idea that bodycams expose police officers to danger. If all of these officers feel safe with some dude following them around with a TV camera, how on Earth is clipping a small camera on their chest a bad idea? Who knows? Maybe there are extenuating circumstances at play.
Two years ago Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan terminated his department’s relationship with Live PD: Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum had noticed that police officers had appeared distracted by the cameras while trying to apprehend an allegedly armed suspect. When asked to explain the decision, spokesman Leland Ashely said Chief Jordan “felt like it was not in the best interest of the department” to continue.
If Live PD isn’t exactly what you’re after or simply not enough, there’s also 35 past episodes of Live PD Presents: Women on Patrol available for your viewing pleasure, as well as 124 episodes of Live PD: Police Patrol, and 33 episodes of Live PD presents: PD Cam, which is hosted by “Sticks” Larson.
The new season of Live PD premieres at 9pm ET Friday on A&E; new episodes will be available Saturdays on demand.