The A&E program “Live PD” sometimes features innocent people, although viewers may not always realize it.
Sometimes, it takes a while to figure out if people in the path of police are really of any interest to law enforcement. Television viewers may not stick around through changing video segments long enough to find out.
This has happened in Tulsa, causing embarrassment and ridicule to those who did nothing wrong, as reported by Tulsa World’s Kelsy Schlotthauer.
Innocent-but-televised isn’t the American way.
Any benefits coming from following police on the job are outweighed by the damage to Tulsa’s image, relationships between police and various communities and residents highlighted.
Mayor G.T. Bynum has rejected calls to cancel the city’s contract with “Live PD,” saying it provides transparency.
We see it differently. It is using law enforcement as entertainment.
Transparency comes with devices like body cameras and policies such as reviews by citizen boards, not for-profit television networks presenting police excitement for amusement purposes.
Behavior often changes when cameras are present, not always for the better.
“Live PD” isn’t showing the public a complete picture. It gives snippets of police work, chosen and edited for entertainment value.
Paying the price are Tulsa’s most vulnerable populations, especially those with mental health needs or facing obstacles of generational poverty.
It’s worth remembering that Tulsa cut ties with “Live PD” three years ago after it documented a season with the TPD Gang Unit. Former Police Chief Chuck Jordan said it wasn’t in the best interest of the department.
It is still not in the best interest of Tulsa.