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After having already decided to pull new Live PD episodes from airing in recent weeks, execs at A&E went the extra step on Wednesday and announced the reality series had been cancelled in the wake of widespread protests and calls for police reform. It was a move that many could already see coming, considering the recent cancellation of COPS and all the other TV shake-ups that have happened recently. Still, that didn't make it any easier for the show's sizable fanbase, or for host Dan Abrams.
To be expected, Dan Abrams wasn't very enthused to get the news that Live PD had been cancelled at A&E. The host took to Twitter after getting the news, sharing his own surprise that everything was ending.
Shocked & beyond disappointed about this. To the loyal #LivePDNation please know I, we, did everything we could to fight for you, and for our continuing effort at transparency in policing. I was convinced the show would go on.
It sounds like Dan Abrams may have been having conversations with network bosses about keeping Live PD around. Alas, any attempts that may have been made were obviously denied.
Dan Abrams hinted on Twitter that he would have more to say about the issue at a later time, and that time came on Thursday morning. Abrams wrote up an story on his Law & Crime website where he offered a more weighted response to the show's cancellation, and tried painting Live PD in a more positive light than its TV predecessor COPS.
I am frustrated and sad because I truly believed in the mission of the show to provide transparency in policing. I completely agree with advocates calling for more body cams on officers and more uniform rules for their use. It seems to me that the antidote to bad policing and officers is transparency and that means more body cams and more shows like Live PD. It’s important to distinguish Live PD from a show like Cops that just presented a highlight reel of crazy moments. Live PD was totally different — following the officers in real time, in their real environments showing the nerves, the adrenaline, the bad, the good, and often the mundane and boring. I will miss it all.
Indeed, many TV viewers may have grown up on watching COPS, but it was Live PD that took over as a ratings winner on Friday and Saturday nights when new episodes aired. Live PD was the highest-rated and most-watched show on those nights, and its consistent success inspired A&E to order up 160 hours of new episodes just last month. That order will obviously not be going forward.
In his Thursday write-up, Dan Abrams initially addressed questions and concerns about the controversial Live PD footage that captured the in-custody death of Javier Ambler back in March 2019. After police tried pulling him over for not dimming his headlights, the 40-year-old Ambler led Texas authorities on a 22-minute chase before crashing his vehicle. He reportedly then resisted being handcuffed, and was tased multiple times, despite audibly telling the officers that he suffered from heart problems and that he couldn't breathe. He became unresponsive less than a minute after being successfully handcuffed, and despite efforts to revive him with CPR, he did not recover.
Not only did Live PD come under fire for having originally filmed the ordeal, which wasn't highly publicized at the time, but the film crew received even more of a backlash after it was revealed the Javier Ambler footage had been deleted. The reason that it wasn't preserved was in part because the show only ever keeps footage for a few weeks, barring any litigious reasons for it to be maintained.
Speaking to that, the Live PD producers did keep this particular footage for three months after it was filmed, per the request of the Williamson County Sheriff, but following the investigation, they were told the officer's body cams were all the evidence that was needed. According to Dan Abrams (who cites Live PD's legal team), no one from the county's D.A. office brought any requests to the producers.
If the footage still existed, and if Live PD had returned to A&E without facing a cancellation, Dan Abrams thinks that the show would have aired the Javier Ambler recording. In his words:
Yes . . . everything up to Javier Ambler’s final moments. It would have been very difficult to watch but in an ongoing effort to show all sides of policing I wish this had been aired just as we had shown many other controversial moments that led to criticism of, and appreciation for, police.
While waiting to hear if there will be another chapter in Live PD's story, be sure to check out our Summer 2020 TV premiere schedule to stay on top of all the new and returning shows making their way to the small screen soon.