Every Friday and Saturday night you can catch some serious police action from agencies all around the country on A&E’s “LIVE PD.” And starting on Sept. 20 Missoula will be among those agencies. Essentially this means you can turn on your television and see all of the unsavory activities your local hooligans (and everyone else) are getting into. Although this can be entertaining to watch in the comfort of your own living room, there are many aspects of this program that are not fair to those being “fea- tured” in the show.
“LIVE PD” is different from other cop shows because it is not only filmed and broadcast live, but it also does not ask for consent from any person before filming their arrest and putting them on the air. You might think that this doesn’t matter to you because you aren’t robbing grocery stores, or cooking meth, so why would the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office ever be looking for you?
Picture this: It’s a slow night in Missoula for “LIVE PD,” so the officers (and the camera men) take a cruise around campus, only find you and your stoner friend smoking a joint across the street from the Adams Center. Yeah, it’s just weed, not a big deal. Any other night, the officer might let you off with a warning. But not tonight. Tonight, they have to make it interesting. Because really what’s good ol’ cable TV without a little drama?
Maybe you’re lucky and escape with only a fine, you have the money to pay it off (or your mom does), and now, criminal record aside, it’s like nothing ever happened. That is until you go to English class on Monday. Everyone’s eyes are on you as you take your seat in the back of the class. You think nothing of it until the kid next to you leans over and says “hey man, saw you on LIVE PD Friday night, that must’ve been scary as fuck.” And now, you are known by most of Missoula, including your parents, your teachers, your boss, as “That one dumb college kid that got put on LIVE PD.”
As happy as we are that the Missoula County Sheriff’s department has been given an opportunity to showcase its talents, they can, and should do so without the ego boost. The privacy of the individuals in our community is far more important.