A television production company behind a law enforcement reality TV show is no longer welcome to film in a Texas county after prosecutors and attorneys complained about a lack of access to potential evidence gathered by film crews.
Williamson County commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to discontinue its contract with Big Fish Entertainment, which produces “Live PD.” The show must stop filming on county property in 30 days.
The county’s sheriff’s department made its debut on the A&E Network show in November.
Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick and some defense attorneys had criticized the contract that gave Big Fish Entertainment the rights to all the video and allowed the company to destroy footage — potential evidence — within 30 days.
“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.”
An attorney representing the sheriff’s office said the “Live PD” crews have no legal obligation to preserve the video.
Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody said Wednesday that he was disappointed with the commissioners’ vote, and that the county has benefited from the show through recruitment, community engagement and transparency.
Big Fish expressed disappointment that the show “became embroiled in Williamson County politics.”
“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 statement said.
But others have said the show portrays the county in a negative light.
Neitha Engert, a resident, said she was happy the commissioners didn’t renew the contract.
“We are ruining people’s lives by seeing them on their weakest day, and that doesn’t need to be broadcast,” Engert said.
This sentiment has been underscored elsewhere. Police departments in Connecticut, Oklahoma and Ohio also decided not to renew their contracts with the show. Some local government leaders concluded the national spotlight on criminal activity overshadowed the positive things happening in their hometowns.