TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – The Greater Terre Haute NAACP Branch is asking the City of Terre Haute to end its contract with “Live PD”.
The organization’s executive committee voted Monday to express the opposition to the production, saying in a press release that “televising individuals at unfortunate and often embarrassing moments in their lives in an attempt to exploit their hardships as entertainment takes unfair advantage of them when they are most vulnerable and most in need of privacy”.
The Terre Haute NAACP is now calling on Mayor Duke Bennett and Police Chief Shawn Keen to end the contract with Big Fish Entertainment, the production company behind “Live PD”.
The press release Friday states Sylvester Edwards, Branch President and Executive Committee chair, sent a letter to city officials with the following points:
“Video-recording while being stopped, interrogated and/or arrested by police conveys the appearance of guilt prematurely, before individuals have had the opportunity to defend themselves in court and are, therefore, still presumed innocent.
These public displays can have major negative impact on their jobs and job prospects as well as their present and future relations with relatives, friends, and neighbors.
Such activity antagonizes our citizens, making the public less respectful of law enforcement, and potentially encourages law enforcers to focus energy on the entertainment value of what they are doing, which is energy diverted away from effectively carrying out the demanding responsibilities of good police work.”
THPD Public Information Officer Ryan Adamson told WTWO News Friday that Chief Keen stands by the reasons he gave during an October 17, 2019, Board of Public Works meeting. At that meeting, Keen stated “us, just like other agencies have seen the number of qualified applicants go way down, so we think that may be a tool we can use to entice more qualified people to come here and be members of our department.”
Mayor Duke Bennett said he hasn’t received much negative feedback from the community regarding the live show. He noted that he is debriefed every week after the show airs, and he has had the opportunity to look at some of the internal procedures used.
“I think it’s been great for us just to see things we wouldn’t normally see, unless you have a supervisor or somebody else out there” Bennett said. “So, I’ve been pretty pleased with the results to this point. I’ve not had any reason to think about cancelling it to this point, and then I get this letter today.
WTWO News has also reached out to A&E and Big Fish Entertainment for comment.
This is a developing story and will be updated.