With a unanimous vote Thursday morning, Williamson County Commissioners approved a contract to allow deputies with the sheriff’s office to appear on “Live PD,” a reality television show that follows police officers on their daily rides.
Sheriff Robert Chody first appealed to commissioners last week to allow his deputies to take part in filming the show, which airs on A&E and bills itself as “unfettered and unfiltered live access” to a typical night on patrol.
“Time and time again, we hear about transparency issues for law enforcement,” Chody said at the Jan. 9 meeting. “How much more transparent can we get than be willing to go on live TV? We’re demonstrating to Williamson County and the world that we have nothing to hide.”
“Live PD” is unique in that it is aired nearly live, with some portions having only a 10- to 25-minute delay from the time they occur to when the scene appears on televisions in homes.
After several commissioners expressed concerns at a previous meeting about the show potentially making the county look bad, the contract was amended. Revisions included shortening the contract from a year to six months and a clause to allow Chody to terminate the agreement with only 30 days notice at any point. According to the contract, the contract term will run from January until July.
Chody said last week that his deputies are excited at the prospect of being on television and that other departments that have taken part in “Live PD” have reported a rise in recruitment from appearing on the show. Despite approving the agreement, several commissioners still have reservations.
“I’m nervous about it, I really am. But I think it’s your call,” County Judge Dan Gattis said to Chody.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey said she had spoken to a department that had been on the show that told her that “not a great thing” happened while filming.
“It was not very positive to the county,” Covey said, without naming where it happened.
“Obviously you, [Sheriff Chody], have taken this responsibility on—good or bad, it’s on you—and I appreciate that,” she told Chody. “It’s for us to look at in six months and see how it goes.”
If the county likes the direction “Live PD” goes, they will have the option to extend the contract to January 2019.