Live PD—one of the highest-rated shows on all of cable TV—has just been canceled, with Variety reporting that A&E has just pulled the plug on the police ride-along series. The news comes shortly after Paramount Network canceled Cops, after both shows were pulled off their respective schedules, and, of course, just a few weeks after the death of George Floyd while in police custody on May 25.
An updated take on the Cops formula, the series followed embedded camerapeople in police departments around the nation, broadcasting (mostly) live nights of American policing on Friday and Saturday nights. Hosted by Dan Abrams, the show has faced a wide series of criticisms over its four years on the air, including accusations that departments were encouraged to seek out “participants” who would make for exciting television, and frequent complaints about the show’s claims that, because it was “journalism,” it wasn’t required to get releases to air footage of the people it filmed. There’s also the wider, and much more complicated, question of the ways the show lionized police forces and served other propaganda purposes. To say nothing of the network’s admission that it destroyed footage of the death of Texas motorist Javier Ambler, who was killed by police during a traffic stop that a Live PD camera person was present for in 2019. At the time, A&E stated that it was never asked to furnish its footage to investigators looking into Ambler’s death.
Despite these complaints, Live PD has been extremely popular among viewers, with the show frequently bringing in more than 2 million viewers on otherwise-dead Friday and Saturday nights. A&E released the following statement tonight:
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.