Everett police respond to a crash along Highway 99 just north of Airport Road on Dec. 21, 2021, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Everett police respond to a crash along Highway 99 just north of Airport Road on Dec. 21, 2021, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Everett police to be in ‘On Patrol: Live,’ a controversial heir to ‘Live PD’

The show’s predecessor was canceled in the wake of the George Floyd protests. The city’s police chief sees it as a recruitment tool.

EVERETT — The Everett Police Department will participate in “On Patrol: Live,” a television show similar to “Cops” or “Live PD” that allows the public “to see firsthand the day-to-day work and experiences of local patrol officers.”

The show airs 6 to 9 p.m. each Friday and Saturday on REELZ, with the first episode set for this week.

“This opportunity will allow an even greater number of people, both locally and nationally, to see the great culture we’ve worked to develop within the department and our officers’ dedication to serving the greater Everett community,” Mayor Cassie Franklin said in a news release.

It’s the first time the series has featured a police department in Washington. In addition to riding along with Everett police live on Friday and Saturdays, “On Patrol: Live” will record other footage of police in daily operations.

Police Chief John DeRousse noted Everett, like other cities across the country, “has a need to recruit future officers, from all walks of life.”

“This will be a great opportunity for our community and people throughout the country to see how our officers do their jobs, living up to our department’s mission while addressing some of the difficult challenges they face every day,” DeRousse said in a written statement. “I believe that seeing our officers in action will inspire more people to consider a career with the Everett Police Department — wanting to become part of this important team.”

The department did not immediately respond to questions Tuesday about the decision to join the controversial show.

“As with all decisions, there are numerous factors to consider, but overall, I see this is as a good opportunity for our police department,” Franklin said in a statement. “I’m confident in our officers and I believe this will give the public a more in depth look at the work they do every day — including the very challenging, dangerous situations and how they handle those.”

The series is hosted by Dan Abrams, who is also the executive producer. Abrams’ co-hosts are retired Tulsa Police Department Sgt. Sean “Sticks” Larkin and deputy sheriff Curtis Wilson. The hosts provide “minute-by-minute” analysis as the show depicts the everyday work of police officers.

In June 2020, a similar police show hosted by Abrams, “Live PD,” was canceled by A&E following the murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests. The revival of the series has received backlash. The Guardian reported in August 2022 that the show represented a “backslide” in policing reform, and that as far as embedded reality television goes, it was “arguably one of the most irresponsible on TV.”

Among the numerous concerns cited by The Guardian:

• People have been publicly humiliated by the show’s producers, without being given the chance to sign release waivers because the broadcast is “live”;

• Police have been allowed to review and censor unflattering footage;

• An Austin American-Statesman investigation “found that uses of force by Williamson County sheriff deputies nearly doubled the year after Live PD partnered with the department, and that deputies used significantly more force during the weeks that Live PD camera crews filmed.”

Other departments in Washington have a history with police reality televison. The Tacoma Police Department and Pierce County Sheriff’s Office were featured in dozens of episodes of “Cops.”

In 2005, after separating from the sheriff’s department, the city of Lakewood ended a 12-year relationship with the show’s producers, according to an editorial in The Tacoma News Tribune from 2020.

“It doesn’t really capture what’s going on in Lakewood,” Larry Saunders, the city’s first police chief, told a reporter for the News Tribune at the time, adding that it “gave the false impression that Lakewood isn’t a safe place to live.”

Other police leaders have seen it as a positive tool for recruitment and retention.

In 2016, Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer said being on the show was “great for morale.”

The prototype of embedded police reality TV, “Cops,” first aired in 1989. It’s one of the longest-running shows on television. In June 2020, Paramount Network canceled the show in the wake of the George Floyd protests. In September 2021, Fox Nation picked up the show, with the 34th season premiering in 2022. Its newest season features beach patrol officers during spring break.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office was one of the first to sign on to “On Patrol: Live.”

“It showed people in this region their law enforcement out on the street, doing their job…and it helped with our recruiting,” Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told KXLY in 2022.

According to the press release from the city of Everett: “The filming of On Patrol: Live will not interfere with standard services and operations provided by the Everett Police Department.”

REELZ is available through many cable packages, as well as streaming platforms such as Amazon Channels, Fire TV, Roku, The Roku Channel, Pluto TV, Tubi, Samsung Smart TV+, Vizio, Crackle, Xumo, Redbox, FreeVee and Local Now.

This article has been updated to include a statement from Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin.

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; jonathan.tall@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @snocojon.

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