Police Departments Asked Live PD To Cut Footage That Made Cops Look Bad

Perhaps this show was not the window into law enforcement transparency it claimed to be.


After A&E canceled the police ride-along reality show Live PD in response to growing criticism and activism about how police officers treat black people, host Dan Abrams insisted that part of the purpose of the show is to provide additional transparency into how officers operate in the field. Abrams said that he thought the show actually furthered the cause of police accountability.

But a new investigation by The Marshall Project, in partnership with The Daily Beast, raises questions about the influence of the police departments with whom the show partnered.

The Marshall Project sought out records and emails between the 47 law enforcement agencies that worked with Live PD and the show's production company. From the 20 agencies who responded to their records requests, they found documentation that police officers reviewed footage before it aired and that, in 13 cases, police asked Live PD to not broadcast specific encounters.

Not all of Live PD was aired live. The show frequently followed police and recorded footage to be aired for future episodes. And even for the footage aired "live," there was actually a 10- to 25-minute delay so that the footage could be reviewed. The show said it only edited footage to remove private information or censor footage that could jeopardize a case or cause a security risk.

But The Marshall Project found that law enforcement agencies asked that footage be cut for other reasons. In one such case, police in Warwick, Rhode Island, confronted a man on a skateboard with a shopping cart who was suspected of shoplifting. As a police car chased the man on a skateboard, it appeared (though it's not fully clear) that the officer driving the car opened the door to knock the skater down while the vehicle was moving.

This is a pretty dangerous tactic for catching a shoplifter and could have hurt the man. A captain with the police department wrote to Live PD and told them that the method used to catch the shoplifter was "way outside of [their] policy and [they] would be opening up some scrutiny issues with the city and our insurance company if they were to see this." He said that the incident was "too 'wild west'" for how they typically behave in the department. Following that email, the incident never aired on Live PD.

The investigation also found footage of a sheriff's deputy in Spokane, Washington, forcefully removing a woman from her own home after she apparently called them over a domestic violence incident. The woman told officers they had to get a search warrant in order to enter her home and then tried to close the door. Instead of leaving, or waiting peacefully outside the home, the officers dragged the woman out of her house while waiting for a judge to sign a warrant.

Once again, representatives from the sheriff's department asked Live PD not to air the encounter due to "procedural issues" with how the deputies behaved. The show's producers tried to edit the footage, but the department was still not satisfied. The encounter never aired.

Big Fish Entertainment, which produced Live PD, told The Marshall Project that the incident didn't air because they were concerned about the woman and a child in the home being identified, not because of the sheriff's department request. In fact, in each incident they were asked about, the production company had a different reason for censoring or cutting footage, and told The Marshall Project that it was not due to police concerns.

The Marshall Project obtained the footage of these encounters and have embedded the videos in its story, so you can review for yourself whether this behavior looks like police misconduct.

These incidents where police departments attempted to influence what Live PD put on the show is precisely why I cast doubt on claims that this type of programming actually shines a light on how police treat people. Real transparency means letting the public witness police mistakes.

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  1. Speaking of bad optics, Seattle live, clearing out CHAZ right now.

    1. Seven lives for my shogun, Raz Simone-sama!

      1. Two unarmed black teenagers shot, one killed by CHAZ security. Not even covered in the local newspaper.

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  2. Go on Youtube and search “first amendment audit” and see how the cops really behave.

    1. Go on Youtube and search “black crime statistics” and see how the corporations really behave.

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  3. I am shocked that a reality police show would not show the reality of policing. Shocked. I feel faint and must repair to my swooning settee.

    1. Exactly I’m a lot less concerned about an entertainment program editing video for the pleasure of its viewing audience than I am about newspapers tailoring their paper and digital product, and network and cable news tailoring its coverage, for the reading and viewing pleasure of its audience.

      In short, I’m a lot less concerned about Live PD making the police look good than I am about Chris Cuomo lobbing softballs to his brother the governor.

      1. “In short, I’m a lot less concerned about Live PD making the police look good than I am about Chris Cuomo lobbing softballs to his brother the governor.”

        Well, they both intentionally mislead in an effort to change public perception which in turn makes it difficult for people to make informed decisions about reforms and accountability.
        Cuomo interviewing his brother is obviously untrustworthy but I get your point that CNN’s lack of integrity allowed it.

        I would also argue that Live PD is committing fraud with its use of “Live” to imply that there is greater transparency and more objective truth.

        1. I agree with you there, although I’ve never watched Live PD, and don’t intend to. I never watched COPS either, which was best described by the singer Jon Dee Graham as “watching poor people fight” — although that show should have been cancelled just for popularizing the song “Bad Boys.”

  4. A funny complaint from Shackford, who so easily covers for the IC

    1. Typical from a guy who argues the person not what is said.

      1. I dont really give a shit about Live PD.
        It’s unimportant.
        But I’m going to keep reminding everyone what a two-faced bootlicking piece of shit Shackford is

  5. They can ask, but they can’t hide.
    Live cops shows are interesting, but I would prefer a live TV show about life in a Chinese gulag.
    Failing that, I’d like a live TV show about Nike’s sweatshops regarding slave labor in the socialist paradise called the People’s Republic of China.
    I’m sure there are a lot of happy workers there who love to tell their stories about what a joy it is to work for a rich capitalist like Phil Knight who doesn’t pay them shit and the privilege of being one of his oppressed slave laborers.

    1. “…rich capitalist like Phil Knight who doesn’t pay them shit and the privilege of being one of his oppressed slave laborers.”

      And actual slaves no less. Did those actual present day slaves get to kneel when they were making Nike’s Betsy Ross Flag shoes that Kaeperdick insisted Nike virtue signal and keep from being sold.

  6. Huh. So “reality TV” is actually scripted story-telling. Who knew.

  7. Far be it for me to suggest that people shouldn’t see what police really do!!! If you wish to criticize Live PD, then so be it. It’s no doubt nice to know some added depth to their clabber — for this show’s viewers whom identify with its value.

    However, liberty long has been championing property rights, such as right to contract. Being a show, the idea is not journalism per se but the capitalist notion of making money from production value and giving channel surfers novel new angles to look at where no reality show has gone before.

    So, keeping those involved moderately content, thereby would go a ways to keep from being sued from misrepresentation by officers or detainees involved … (oh that republican idea again!) … and thereby, losing too much money.

    Big Fish Games churns out a lot of games like pulp detective novels of yore. And their quality production formula now apparently rides the same rail. So I doubt they can be financially equipped to become the champions of journalistic transparency that Mr. Shackford seems to find prime — At least, not this soon.

    I were fairly comfortable supposing that Live PD has no contract with law enforcers, until this article reminds that certain law officers were followed around from show to show. And then there was the fact of at least one enlisted to narrate. But I thought I heard from officers on the show tell their detained peers that they have no contractual relationship with the camera crew but rather imply a 1st amendment right of theirs.

    Disclaimer: I never ‘watch’ this show. I never sit down and deliberately follow a full episode. All I need to know were to hear it in full and catch a few minutes of direct footage from time to time over a brief snack; our house walls must be indeed thin. Radio was once a popular thing, so it can be amazing how much audio alone can reveal.

  8. There is virtually no part of any of these shows that was aired, that doesn’t show the rampant deprivation of rights and denial of due process of law committed by the Oath Breakers throughout every single shift.
    Some day more people are going to wake up to the fake that virtually everything the BAR Association purports as law, is nothing but a statutory con and a blood red stain on the constitution. Almost the entire in-justice system in this country is nothing but a revenue extortion scheme from one end to the other with the BAR Association working the cash register.
    Not one of these municipal kangaroo courts is a lawful court of justice, just an administrative office of the local municipal corporation, denying Due Process of Law to everyone that’s fool enough to walk into them.

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