The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is making its TV debut Friday night on the popular show ‘Live PD’ which airs on the A&E network.
But while OHP is excited about the opportunity, some officials believe the show is going to turn real police work, into TV drama.
From country roads to reality TV, OHP is joining the popular and controversial show. Live PD follows law enforcement units across the country and at home viewers can ride along from home on live arrests, busts and chases.
“So that’s what I think is so cool about it, is that everyday Oklahomans are going to get to see what we encounter every day and they’re probably going to be like, ‘wow that’s insane’ and I’m like no, it’s just a Monday. It’s nothing new,” said OHP Trooper Mystal Perkins.
However, critics say shows like Live PD are anything, but everyday encounters experienced by police, instead saying they distort real crime, real criminals and the real work of law enforcement officers.
“They focus a lot on more serious crimes for the drama effect, you know murder, and shootings, and drug raids, and things like that. And you know most crime is fairly mundane,” said University of Oklahoma Associate Professor Trina Hope. “I think that this fosters more fear of crime and particularly more fear of violent crime and I think it fosters more fear of minorities.”
There are also concerns about how the show is produced and whether officers will change their behavior when the cameras are on them.
“They call it the Hawthorne Effect. Whenever you point a camera at somebody or people are watching you, we do tend to behave differently. And so, you’d imagine that police officers are not going to be any different,” said Hope.
Oklahoma is no stranger to the show, or its problems.
The city of Tulsa ended its contract with A&E in 2017 after a pair of highly publicized incidents, one of them racially charged, were used during the show.
Tulsa's Police Chief telling the online magazine The Frontier, "We just didn't like the way it represented Tulsa," and Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum saying on Facebook simply, "I'm not a fan.”
An OHP spokesperson says they understand concerns about the show, they just don't share them. The agency has only signed on for one season with the option to resign.
OHP's first episode airs Friday, March 29, at 8 p.m.