A&E has decided to defund Live PD, pulling the plug on one of cable’s biggest hits. The network late Wednesday effectively canceled the show, at least in its current incarnation, citing the current national climate in the wake of the recent police killing of George Floyd.
“This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on Live PD,” a statement from the network read. The news came barely 24 hours after the show’s executive producer, Dan Abrams, tweeted that the series wasn’t going away.
But Abrams apparently spoke too soon. The network seemed to have realized that production of a show which requires such close cooperation with police officers at a time when so many departments are under fire for how they mistreat black people and people of color couldn’t continue without major changes. Earlier this week, after A&E had already pulled new episodes of the show off the air, the Austin American-Statesman reported that Live PD cameras had filmed the 2019 police killing of a Texas man, Javier Ambler, and that the footage of his killing was destroyed. Abrams has denied any malicious intent in destroying the footage and insisted that the show simply followed long-established guidelines designed to protect civilians.
While A&E has clearly canceled Live PD as it has existed, the network also left open the possibility of a future reboot with a reimagined format for the show. “Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them,” the network said, adding that it “will be meeting with community and civil rights leaders as well as police departments” to determine if there’s a way forward. For now, however, A&E insiders say Live PD is done: The network is pulling reruns of the show as well.
A&E isn’t the first network to pull programming in the wake of Floyd’s shooting and the resulting protests. Paramount Network canceled Cops on Tuesday, while HBO Max said it was temporarily removing Gone with the Wind from the platform. But the decision to essentially cancel Live PD is orders of magnitude more significant, with a far more substantial potential impact on A&E’s financial outlook. The series had become a monster hit for the network, regularly dominating cable ratings on the weekend nights when it aired. It has spawned multiple spin-offs as well.
As for Abrams, he reacted strongly on Twitter to the news the network was moving on from Live PD. “Shocked & beyond disappointed about this,” he wrote. “To the loyal #LivePDNation please know I, we, did everything we could to fight for you, and for our continuing effort at transparency in policing. I was convinced the show would go on… More to come.”