One of the longest-running television shows in history, the iconic reality TV show “Cops” has officially been canceled, amid the growing protests in support of police reform and racial equality.
Paramount Network, where the show had moved to from FOX several years ago, has officially decided to dump the long-running reality TV series.
“Cops is not on the Paramount Network and we don’t have any current or future plans for it to return,” a Paramount Network spokesperson said, according to Entertainment Weekly.
The series followed city police officers and county sheriff’s deputies, who were sometimes backed up by state troopers or other state agencies, during patrols and other police activities, which mostly involved arresting suspects of non-violent offenses. Some episodes have also featured federal agencies like the FBI. The show assigned television camera crews to accompany them as they went through their day to day activities. Each episode typically consisted of three segments which often end with an arrest.
In June 1994, researchers at Old Dominion University found that African-American and Latino men were usually shown as perpetrators of crimes in the show. The police officers depicted on the show were overwhelmingly white, and a very few of the suspects on the show were white, and when whites were featured on the show, they were typically portrayed as non-violent offenders. The show’s co-creator John Langley claimed that he tried to include white offenders in each episode after being informed about the results of the study.
However, a later study in 2004 found that there was still racial bias in the show. The show has also been accused of targeting the poor and only focusing on crimes committed by poor people. The show’s creator’s have said that the TV format requires them to constantly churn out episodes, and there aren’t enough white-collar busts for them to film.
Some police have even expressed dismay with the show, and some police departments have refused to allow camera crews for Cops to ride along with their officers.
Chicago Police Department Deputy Director of News Affairs Patrick Camden in 2005 stated in response to a request for Cops taping that “police work is not entertainment. What they do trivializes policing. We’ve never seriously even considered taping.”
The Fairfax County Police Department in Northern Virginia has also refused to allow Cops to film its officers, and so has the Washington DC Police, St. Louis City Police, and the Honolulu Police Department.
There are over 1,100 episodes of Cops, and the show was preparing for its 33rd season.
The show Live PD, which appears on A&E is a successor to Cops and its future is uncertain as well. According to THR, A&E pulled last week’s episodes of Live PD and there is no clear indication when or if the next episode will air, although the network is promising that it will be back at some point.
As affiliation with the police becomes more socially unacceptable in the United States, television networks and movie studios will likely begin to rethink how police officers are depicted in the content that they publish.