Sheriff's Office Exits 'Live PD' As Producers Refuse To Give Video To DA
Georgetown, TX – A new season of “Live PD” will launch on Friday but the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office won’t be participating in it this time.
The Williamson County Commissioner’s Court voted to pull its sheriff’s department off of the nation’s most popular reality show after the production company refused to allow the district attorney to have access to raw footage, Deadline reported.
Williamson County sheriff’s deputies made their debut on “Live PD” in November of 2018, and shortly thereafter, the district attorney asked production company Big Fish Entertainment for access to the raw footage, according to the San Marcos Daily Record.
District Attorney Shawn Dick and some defense attorneys argued that the footage contained potential evidence and could be used for investigations.
However, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office said that the production company had no legal obligation to preserve the video, the San Marcos Daily Record reported.
"I had always assumed that the footage was available if someone wanted to get it," Dick said. "I didn't realize that apparently the footage is being destroyed."
He took his complaints to local lawmakers and on Aug. 20, they voted to shut down participation in production.
“The Commissioners Court voted unanimously to terminate the contractual agreement between Williamson County and Big Fish Entertainment, the producer of the show ‘Live PD’,” Williamson County tweeted, according to Deadline.
The show was ordered to stop filming in 30 days which coincided perfectly with the launch of the new season on Sept. 20.
A spokesman for A&E told Deadline that the contract between Williamson County and Big Fish Entertainment was due to expire anyway, and that numerous other police departments were slated for the new season, Deadline reported.
Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody was disappointed by the county commissioners’ decision, KUT reported.
Sheriff Chody said that “Live PD” had been good for sheriff’s department recruitment and community engagement.
A group of law enforcement supporters quickly started a petition after the announcement, but framed it more as a statement of support for the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, according to the Round Rock Patch.
Big Fish Entertainment also said they were disappointed that the show "became embroiled in Williamson County politics,” the San Marcos Daily Record reported.
"We thank the Williamson County Sheriff's Office and the community for their participation and wish everyone of Williamson County the best, as we shift our attention to the many other agencies around the country asking to work with 'Live PD,'" the production company said in a formal statement.
Not everyone is sad to see the filming stop in their community.
Williamson County resident Neitha Engert said she was glad the production contract wasn’t renewed by county commissioners, the San Marcos Daily Record reported.
"We are ruining people's lives by seeing them on their weakest day, and that doesn't need to be broadcast," Engert said.
Concerns had also been raised about the actual performance of the Williamson County sheriff’s deputies on the show, after an arrest featured live was being investigated for potential use-of-force violations, KUT reported.
Plus Sheriff Chody’s office was already investigating an offensive Facebook post by Sheriff’s Commander Steve Deaton when Commander Deaton was accused of having made an inappropriate remark about a female “Live PD” producer, according to the Round Rock Patch.
Big Fish Entertainment completed filming its last show with Williamson County just four days after the county commissioners voted to stop participation.