Williamson County commissioners end ‘Live PD’ contract

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Story updated at 2:27 p.m. Aug. 20

Williamson County commissioners voted unanimously to end its contract with Big Fish Entertainment LLC, which produces “Live PD.”

The court decided to end the contract Aug. 20 following allegations against Commander Steve Deaton for inappropriate behavior, such as challenging deputies in a meeting to have sex with a female “Live PD” producer and posting offensive images on Facebook.

“My hope is that every member of our community feels safe and valued, but the images posted by Commander Deaton do not promote this,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey said. “I am opposed to what is happening here, and I’m sickened that it hasn’t been addressed yet.”

“Live PD” is a documentary series on the A&E Network that follows law enforcement officers live in the course of their nighttime patrols.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long and Covey previously tried to end the contract with the show in May, saying the show did not accurately portray life in the county.

Long said during the Aug. 20 meeting that if the employee had worked for her, he would have been fired immediately.

County Judge Bill Gravell, who was previously in favor of the show, directed the court’s legal counsel to end the contract.

“[Big Fish Entertainment] will no longer have permission to film our office, facilities or vehicles or anything associated with Williamson County or Williamson County Sheriff’s Office,” Gravell said.

Gravell added the court does not have the authority to fire Deaton because that is at the purview of Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody, but the county can set policies to address the issue.

Gravell said the court will adopt an updated countywide social media policy in the following weeks. Chody said Deaton has yet to be fired due to a vague social media policy. As of 2 p.m., Aug. 20 Deaton was still employed by the  Williamson County Sheriff’s Office.

Chody did not immediately respond for comment.

Several county residents spoke on the topic during the public comment period, saying the show negatively impacted the county.

“I think we have great people serving as police officers, but you bring a camera, and it’s time to be on stage,” Williamson County resident Sharon Cummings said.

 

 

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  1. This is ridiculous… FIRE Deaton !! No county is crime free and I like knowing what things happen in my area… it’s a TV show… it does not misrepresent the community… it is what it is… all of these people living in their bubbles need a dose of reality…
    What Deaton challenged the Deputies with is grounds for dismissal immediately… In a meeting.. nothing to do with Social Media…

  2. An investigation will be launched into the backgrounds of every member of the Commissioner’s Court, since they clearly have never made a joke before…. I expect them to be 100% perfect & will post the findings nationally.

    • Deanna, I bet they actually haven’t made jokes like this. Jokes about rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, racism, murder, etc. are NOT funny. These “jokes” were well thought out and planned by a law enforcement officer in a LEADERSHIP position. No excuses!

      • Respectfully, you don’t have a clue about the meaning behind the photos. They weren’t joking about rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, racism or murder. I assume that you don’t know the people involved personally & couldn’t possibly understanding the meaning….You are not in public safety, therefore, you have no reference point. Haters gonna hate regardless of the truth. It is your right 100% to have & voice your opinion. I applaud you for doing so. Freedom of speech is an important freedom!

        • Deanna, I completely agree with Stacy. Cmdr. Deaton encouraging his subordinates to have sex with a producer, and his posts on social media were disturbing, clearly unprofessional and an insult to members of public safety.

          • Agree wholeheartedly with Chris and Stacy. Completely unacceptable and inexcuseable. He should be terminated due to violations in ethical behaviors and standards as a leader in law enforcement. I guarandamnteeyou state employees (who are at will conveniently) would get terminated for much less due to poor representation of the state and public. Law enforcement should be held to an even higher standard. Deplorable and sickening.

          • He didn’t encourage them to do so. He asked them if any of them had. There is a huge difference.

      • From what I understand Deaton did Not say what everyone keeps saying he said in the briefing. What do the FB postings have to do with Live PD? All of you did a real disservice to the community by ending the contract. Why punish a whole department for the actions of 1 man? This was a great way to show our LE in a positive, helpful, caring way in a time when we can show people why they don’t have to be vilified. Live PD is the most watched cable show on TV, which speaks to the popularity. It really is a shame they only listened to one side at court. This was a setup from the start, but we will always support Sheriff Chody.

    • Your own bubble must be so toxic if you think such immoral behavior of anyone, let alone by a grown man in a position of authority who felt so comfortable behaving that way that he thought nothing of making it PUBLIC, is something to be dismissed as a “joke.” How low is your morality? Let me guess, you also go on about “Family Values” and how the president exemplifies those values.

      Making light of sexual assault when your own damned job is dealing with victims, is despicable. Even more disgusting is the flippant reaction over it by people like you.

  3. Disappointed to hear that the contract was cancelled. I though the show put deputies in a positive light. All cities/counties have problems with drugs DWIs, and other crime. Those who say the show put the county in a negative spot must not be aware of crime stats.

    • I agree, Judy. The wife and I watch this show regularly and I’m actually pretty proud of the law enforcement officers on the show. I think it shows them in a positive light as I have yet to see them treat anyone disrespectfully or negatively. The only issue I have is they seem to just hover around the Lake Creek Parkway, 620, and 183 area of WilCo. There’s so much more Williamson County out there. lol…what’s with the same old traffic stops??

    • The judges don’t like the dirty underbelly being exposed as the truth. Anybody who thinks there isn’t crime going on has a case of cranial recital inversion syndrome. Williamson County has some great deputies and Sheriff Chody leads from the front and by example. He doesn’t have to do what he does. He works and gives time to the county because he loves the job and the county as a whole.

      • And yet the sheriff won’t discipline the person who had misconduct at work (in addition to on social media.) how’s that leading from the front? He does his job for POWER. Wake up.

  4. I’m very disappointed that the contract was ended. LivePD was a great way to get the community together and show support for our local deputies. We attended several watch parties and had a great time. For those who feel the show wasn’t accurately representing Williamson County, you might want to get your head out of the sand. Our family supports Sheriff Chody and the deputies and will continue to do so, LivePD or not.

  5. I would like to know how much money all of this cost us tax-payers. I have friends in the SO, they tell me the “Live PD stars,” are making serious amounts of money in OT. I asked if the television shows pays the sheriff for any of that? I was told no-we (the taxpayers) are paying for this “entertainment.” So, all the TV executives are getting rich, while we are footing the bill and making the county look like drugged out losers, to the rest of the US. Good riddance.

    • This is not true. The Live PD Deputies work either their regular shift or a modified shift, and they take mandatory days off (‘RED’) to keep from going over regulated hours per pay period. I can’t speak for the K9s, they may or may not receive extra bones….

      • Well darn it! I guess my Friday and Saturday evenings are open again. Loved watching and will miss seeing our part of the country.

    • Wrong. So, so wrong. The production company, (in this case, Big Fish Entertainment) follows these officers around organically, through their day-to-day lives. Not even the network (A&E) offers any additional money to the officers, who essentially donate their time to the television series. That is how unscripted/reality TV works. There are no actors or cast, therefore the talent (the officers) are not compensated for their appearance on television.

      The network gets their money from advertising, and pays the production company to produce the show. The only money from tax-payers goes to the county, like it would regularly.

  6. I don’t live in your state or county. Avid Live PD watcher. I don’t see your place in a negitive light at all. It actually put your county a place to visit. This Deaton cop should be reprimanded & rules changed so it shouldn’t happen again. Chody seems to have his issues & be voted out or not during your next election. Our family will miss you on Live PD. Sad that a few ruins it for many.

    • This was so kind of you, Flora. I agree wholeheartedly (although I am local) :). It’s good to see “outsiders” see our neck of the woods in a positive light and a place to come visit. There is SO much to see and do here, so come on down (or up, depending on your location). Thanks for your kind words and thoughtfulness. I agree with everything you stated.

  7. Seriously, WHY CANCEL? It’s not LivePD’s fault? Take other measures, but this seems like overreach. Look internally, and don’t punish the fans. From a Wilco Rez and a fan of LPD.

  8. Wilco commission have a hard time admitting that southern portions of their county are shit holes. Is what it is.

    • Williamson County has had the reputation of “Come on vacation, leave on probation”. I think the commissioners have failed their community. This program showed the county law enforcement in a positive light. It showed that being part of a large metropolitan area, that we do have problems. But, it also showed that our law enforcement officers have a heart and they serve us with the upmost dignity. Thank you Sheriff Chody and all the fine officers serving with you.

  9. I’ve made note of the people who voted to end the contract and when election time comes up and they run again, I will vote against them. It was good to see Williamson County on Live PD and did not put the county in a negative light. It showed us what our policemen and women go through and I have the utmost respect for them now that I’ve seen some of it.

  10. If this is retribution because the situation has been not been addressed by the Sheriff’s dept. I see why they cancelled it. The guy shoulda been canned already.

    If this is because of the situation was brought to light in general… pretty sorry. The show didn’t cause it. One Commander with no sense did.

    Loved seeing WilCo on LivePD. Very professional guys doing their job well.

  11. My husband and I live in Williamson County, and all we can say is that we will do our best to make sure every single one of these ‘commissioners’ are voted out of office during the next election.

    • Mary Ann Bartlett

      Thank you, Lisa. We know that this was just an excuse. If you find out the real reason, please let us know.

  12. Opinions are like assholes; everyone has one & they’re usually not pretty. But the great thing about America is that we all have the freedom to formulate our own opinions based on intelligent research & to voice said opinion to the world. We all see the world & events that transpire, differently, because we don’t all share like experiences, perceptions, culture and/or tolerances. Each & every one of us are right in how we feel, based on our perceptions & beliefs. Regardless of the perceptions that the Commander’s actions have caused, he is not an evil, nasty or disreputable man…he’s a human who makes mistakes. Even Sheriff Chody is a human who makes mistakes. Both are good men. A mistake or two doesn’t make the man or the Department. While you’re crucifying them, please try to remember that.

  13. It’s quite obvious, that while Commander Deaton’s actions were deplorable, this was simply the excuse the Commissioners were looking for to end the LivePD contract. EVERY County has some problems, that’s why we have police! And the TV audience doesn’t think less of this County because of it. Quite the contrary, we think more of the County knowing such great men and women protect it. Do try to vote these Commissioners out.

  14. I love seeing WilCo deputies on TV. AND I’m very proud of Williamson County by the way most individuals “act” when stopped by WilCo. I believe Sheriff Chody has done an outstanding job with his staff. They appear to be well trained with manners. Thank you Sheriff Chody.

    Under NO circumstances have I EVER felt Williamson County was being poorly represented. In fact, I feel Williamson County has the most professional, courteous police staff shown on the program.

    These Commissioners won’t get my vote.

  15. Michael Harwell Sr.

    County Commissioners voting unamously in terminating this Contract…Only can be remedied by voting them out of Office and renewing the Contract with Big Fish Entertainment .Williamson County Sheriff Department represented themselves as Professional Law Enforcement Officers and will be missed.. We looked forward every Week to watch them!

  16. Mary Ann Bartlett

    This is so obviously a political move by the commissioners. The rest of America can see that. Now, it is the commissioners have now put the county in a bad light. Your officers were making your county look good. Stupid move. I can’t wait to find out the real reason.

  17. Camille Mauriello

    I have not read the other comments yet.. I hope I am not repeating anything they said which would bore you.. I have a medical background,, from years ago,, When I started watching Live PD my interest in it was peaked,,but I also was interested in law enforcement.. which I am probably too old for.. but don’t count out seniors just yet ! I was learning about how to spot something that perhaps I needed to SAY something about.. especially in my neighborhood.. or out shopping, driving… things you guys should know about.. I wanted to get involved and I still do.. You took away a lot of peoples excitement at the prospect of being an officer of the law. You stepped on dreams.. all because of one person.. you could have dealt with that person by omitting them .. completely from the show.. instead of PUNISHING so many of us.. at least 90% of our county .. I don’t know how you got your job as commissioners.. but if you are voted in.. I guarantee you just lost your next election . You should have put a vote to your citizens instead of playing God and destroying possibly some future dreams of those who want to BE in law..in ANT capacity .. Your officers that were on Live PG.. were some of the most outstanding I have ever seen on Live PD.. They explained what they were doing.. they explained the law, they were compassionate and passionate about their duties..They made people WANT TO BE BETTER.. How could you something positive like that out of our community without thinking of OTHERS ?? I repeat.. we should have been allowed to vote on this.. I pray you thing more positively about this and make a decision to bring back something you stole from us.. all in the name of possible votes…. which from what I see ,, you wont be getting in the future !! Say hello to Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody for me..

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Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.
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