Williamson County Ends Sheriff's Department Access For 'Live PD' TV Show

Aug 20, 2019

Williamson County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to end an arrangement with the cable show "Live PD” after the District Attorney's Office requested raw video from the show be kept as evidence. The series follows law enforcement agencies in various locations around the county.

The move comes just three months after commissioners voted 3-2 to re-up the deal with Big Fish Entertainment, the show’s production company.

Sheriff Robert Chody has said the show is good for community engagement and deputy recruitment. That sentiment was echoed at Tuesday's meeting by Kathy LaRue of Round Rock, who said she watches the show at community watch parties.

“My grandsons look up to the law enforcement officers on the show,” she said. “They get a chance to see them as they work and they see that they treat others with respect.”

There have been legal questions since May, though, over the arrest footage accumulated for the show. Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick and defense lawyers have lobbied to have raw video and audio be preserved as evidence at trials.

Under the “Live PD” access agreement with the county, however, producers own all the footage and could destroy it in 30 days. 

Concerns have also been raised over the performance of officers being filmed. Last month, county officials said they were looking into the use of force in the arrest of an Austin man shown during one episode.

This comes as the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department is being scrutinized for controversial social media posts by one of its commanders. Facebook posts dating back to 2017 from Cmdr. Steve Deaton featured dolls depicting date rape, kidnapping and other criminal acts.

Commissioners heard from county staff about a new and improved social media policy Tuesday, but didn't take action.

Correction: A previous version of this story said Sheriff Robert Chody told commissioners Tuesday that the show was good for community engagement. He was speaking in May.