State Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, filed a bill Nov. 9 that would ban law enforcement agencies from contracting with reality TV shows.
House Bill 54 was written in response to the case of Javier Ambler, a Black man who died in Williamson County Sheriff's Office custody in March 2019, according to a news release. “Live PD,” a law enforcement reality show with which WCSO was contracting at the time, was filming on the scene, but the event was not aired and was later deleted.
“Policing is not entertainment,” Talarico said in the release. “In the tragic murder of Javier Ambler, we saw what happens when law enforcement leaders are more interested in boosting their ratings than protecting our communities. I hope Democrats and Republicans will come together to pass this bill to protect our citizens and restore trust in law enforcement.”
The bill specifically bans state and local law enforcement from contracting with television film crews to film officers while acting in the line of duty for the purpose of creating a reality television show, the release said.
Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody is facing several legal battles associated with the show and the events that unfolded following Ambler’s death.
Chody is being sued by Williamson County for entering into a contract with “Live PD” when he did not have the authority to do so. Following a Nov. 10 executive session, the Commissioners Court voted to drop a similar lawsuit against Big Fish Entertainment LLC, the parent company of “Live PD,” and indicated that they are in the works to drop the lawsuit against Chody as well.
Chody was also indicted Sept. 25 by the Williamson County District Attorney’s Office for evidence tampering in the Javier Ambler case. Chody has maintained his innocence. Legal proceedings are scheduled to begin in late November.
In June, Talarico called for Chody’s resignation, as did others; Chody did not concede.
Amid the controversy surrounding him and “Live PD,” the sheriff lost his re-election bid. He will be replaced by Mike Gleason on Jan. 1.
State Rep. James Talarico files bill to ban law enforcement contracts with reality TV shows
State Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, filed a bill Nov. 9 that would ban law enforcement agencies from contracting with reality TV shows. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)