Live PD kicked off 2020 on January 3rd with Season 4 resuming after the holidays. But it was hard to imagine during the first week of January what would happen later in the year. By March COVID was sweeping through the country. Live PD was scheduled to air on March 20th, but for the safety of officers and the crew, the decision was made to put the show on hold. The show was off the air for 2 weeks, and then back on April 3rd with a special episode that focused on COVID. Live PD came back the next week, but the show was shorter and there were a lot more pre-recorded segments. As the month of May began, it seemed the show was adapting to the pandemic. The June 6th episode was scheduled to be the 300th episode of Live PD.
In the wake of the murder of George Floyd and protests for racial equality, the producers of Live PD felt the best course of action was to permanently end Live PD. The May 23rd episode was the last episode to air. Following the cancellation of the show, Dan Abrams publically lobbied for the show and that there options to bring it back. The fans revolted against the A&E network and boycotted it. The ratings for A&E bottomed out and never recovered to what they had with Live PD. The protests against racial inequality are cited as the primary reason for canceling Live PD. But there are a few alternative theories about why the show was canceled.
Many have speculated that the impact of COVID-19 had a major impact on the show. The financial costs of additional precautions to keep both officers and crew safe was a major factor. And also the insurance implications of potentially exposing people to the virus while filming added to the financial pressure. On top of that, with all the problems they were facing, law enforcement agencies were not renewing to be on the show during the pandemic. The impact of COVID-19 may have been too much for the producers.
On March 28, 2019, Javier Ambler was killed after being tasered by Williamson County Deputies while Live PD was filming. Live PD never aired the segment, and according to producers Williamson County never requested they release the video. Ultimately, Live PD producers would destroy the footage of Javier Ambler’s death. The contract in-place between Williamson County and Live PD producers at the time of Ambler’s death allowed producers to destroy unaired footage within 30 days unless a court order was issued that required it to be retained. The story that the media ran with was that Live PD was part of a cover-up in Ambler’s death, and ultimately this put a lot of public and legal pressure on the show.
At the same time, Willamson County was suing Sheriff Robert Chody for filming with Live PD after the County Commissioners voted to end filming. Despite the County voting to end the contract with Live PD, Chody entered into a new contract. Both of these situations created public and legal pressure on the show.
Calls to Return
Following the show’s cancellation, all previous episodes of Live PD were pulled from the A&E channel, on-demand, and the A&E website. Dan appeared on several news programs debating the values of the show. The officers featured on Live PD felt a sense of betrayal. But most people associated with the show remained quiet. On the other hand, the fans continued to watch older episodes from DVR and took to social media calling for the show to come back.
Williamson County Fallout
On September 28, 2020, Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody was indicted on a felony evidence tampering charge stemming from the destruction of body-cam footage relating to Javier Ambler’s death.
Sheriff Chody recently lost his bid for re-election on November 7. He will leave office in January. However, Chody is currently under investigation after being arrested and indicted on a felony charge of tampering with evidence in relation to the Ambler case. Chody’s case is expected to go to trial in 2021.
On Nov. 10, Williamson County Commissioners dropped its lawsuit against Live PD over filming without a valid contract. Live PD producers in turn dropped its countersuit against the county.
There is no doubt that Sheriff Chody’s desire to be in the spotlight created serious problems not just for Live PD but for the residents of Williamson County. Chody thought he was above the law, and he could do what ever was needed to fuel his fame on TV. Hopefully, the show can recover from this taint.
It goes without saying that the Live PD Nation still wants to bring their show back. The petition on this website has close to 5,000 signatures, with fans still signing the petition 6 months later. The producers know there’s a demand for the show, and it seems like many of the problems that caused Live PD to be canceled have been resolved. This creates a big reason for the show to relaunch in 2021.
Dan continues to talk about work happening behind the scenes to bring the show back. We think Live PD will be back either on a channel like Fox with a new name for the show, or on a new dedicated streaming channel. Stay tuned in 2021 for the return of Live PD.