LivePD, the reality television show that embeds camera crews with patrol officers and broadcasts almost in real time, is leaving Salinas just a few months into the second year of its two-year agreement with the Salinas Police Department.
The news dropped via the Twitter account of Salinas Police Officer Mike Muscutt, who posted a video that was removed only a few moments later. In the video, Muscutt said this was the first night of the show’s final three nights in Salinas, a move he called bittersweet.
Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter confirms the show will be leaving. He says he has not yet seen the letter describing the reasons the production company BigFish Entertainment has decided to leave, but said it has nothing to do with the fierce opposition the show has faced from community activists and local school boards; several school boards have issued resolutions asking the city to cease its contract with LivePD owing to how the show portrays the community.
”Yes it’s true they are leaving after this weekend, on their request to leave,” says Gunter, who is attending a conference in Long Beach. “It’s my understanding they are looking for a place that has a lot more activity than ours. We’re kind of a boring community.
”It had nothing to do with community complaints or involvement,” Gunter adds. “That’s what I’ve heard so far.”
LivePD debuted in Salinas in September 2018, a month after City Council approved a memorandum of understanding between the show and the police department. That approval, on a 6-0 vote, with one member absent, came with virtually no discussion about the ramifications of embedding camera crews with beat cops.
The show took a toll on the officers who initially agreed to participate. Originally, about 20 patrol officers were willing to have the camera crews ride along with them, but that number dwindled to about eight before the first year of the MOU was up.
Since the Weekly ran a cover story about the show and its presence in the city, several school boards, including the Salinas Union High School District and the Alisal Unified School District, issued resolutions asking the city to break off its work with the show.
SUHSD board member Anthony Rocha, who introduced the resolution on that board, says he found it necessary that leaders take a stand on issues that impact the entire community, regardless of the governmental jurisdiction.
“It negatively portrayed Salinas. And growing up in Salinas, it was often said in school, ’I can’t wait to get out of Salinas.’ We have this negative stereotype.
”But Salinas has made a huge effort, along with community partners and nonprofits, to reduce crime. And LivePD brought us two steps back. It inaccurately portrayed us as a crime-ridden community and focused on people of Mexican heritage and perpetruated the stereotype of Mexicans as criminals. With the rise of white nationalism, it put the city and its residents in a bad light.”