TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Terre Haute Police Department’s new contract with Live PD is an “extremely poor decision,” according to Vigo County Commissioner Brendan Kearns.
“As our community goes one step forward, this puts us three steps back,” Kearns said in a written statement presented at a commissioner’s meeting Tuesday morning.
Big Fish Entertainment entered into a contract the city of Terre Haute to include THPD on A&E’s hit show Live PD. Last week, the Terre Haute Board of Public Works unanimously voted to approve the contract.
Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse was also approached by the reality television series, but he dismissed the idea.
“At first I thought it sounded like a pretty good idea,” Plasse told WTWO/WAWV, noting he had a positive experience with the former G4 series Campus PD that featured Indiana State University during Season 3 in 2011.
He said he changed his mind when he saw the contract included full access to the jail. Having already admitted to unlawful conditions at the county jail, Plasse did not want to bring national attention to the building, especially with ongoing state and federal lawsuits pending.
Had the new jail been completed when he was approached, Plasse said he would have been more open to the idea, but the final decision would not have been his alone to make.
If Plasse had agreed to the contract, it would have gone to the commissioners for vote. Instead commissioners were not involved in the process at all, Kearns noted.
He said this leaves the county open to potential lawsuits and mistrials due to the production.
“The 911 Dispatch Center is the responsibility of the Commissioners,” Kearns noted. “If this moves forward, the 911 Dispatch Center will be off-limits to the production crew.”
Other cities and counties who have participated in the show later “realized they were sold a bill of goods based on hopes of a strong recruitment tool and increased public support,” said Kearns.
Kearns added that the Vigo County community supports its public safety personnel.
“We rally up in time of need,” he said. “We are there for our injured and the families of the fallen. We do not need a TV crew to exploit our community for their personal financial gain, while showing the world our residents, our friends, our family members in their toughest times.”
While the sheriff’s department will not be involved in filming, Plasse said he will continue to watch the program at home.
“Hopefully it works out well for the city,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s a good experience for them and for everybody watching.”
The contract with the THPD began immediately; however, no announcements have been made as to when episodes will air.
The show will follow three to five THPD officers during the evening shift.
Live PD airs on A&E Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. until midnight.