PCSO plans reality show

Big Fish Entertainment LLC seeks to enter into an agreement with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office to film deputies as part of a reality television show.

FLORENCE — Pinal County sheriff’s deputies soon could be gracing the small screen if the Board of Supervisors passes an agreement allowing the Sheriff’s Office to become part of a reality television show.

An item on Wednesday’s consent agenda at the supervisors meeting is for an agreement between the Sheriff’s Office and Big Fish Entertainment LLC of New York. Big Fish is proposing filming PCSO deputies over the course of one year for a show it produces called “Live PD.”

PCSO Chief Deputy Matthew Thomas said the agency was approached by the producers to gauge the interest level of PCSO and said the producers expressed interest in the agency and the county.

“Based on the positives that this would generate for PCSO in reaching our community, highlighting the work of our deputies (and) we chose to move forward with it,” Thomas said.

The agreement would give the producers access to PCSO facilities, offices, vehicles and the Pinal County Adult Detention Center. In addition, producers would “accompany PCSO officers or other personnel during the course of their duties.”

The show would be “almost live” and would be recorded with a 10- to 25-minute delay, the agreement says, allowing the producers to “eliminate or blur sensitive material and address any legal concerns prior to broadcast.”

The show’s producers would “embed” with PCSO deputies for up to 12 weeks. According to the company’s website, “Live PD” airs on the A&E cable television channel. The next season of the series will premiere on Oct. 28 and will feature the Dallas Police Department.

“A&E is jumping into the national conversation on policing in America with ‘Live PD,’ a weekly live documentary series that takes viewers inside the country’s busiest police departments and the communities they patrol in real time,” the website says.

Thomas said individual deputies would have the option of consenting or not to be in the show.

The show would be budget neutral for the county, Thomas said, with no public funds being allocated to it.

The shows producers haven’t agreed to pay the county or deputies for being part of the show.

“The show will essentially film the activities associated with normal duties of our deputies,” Thomas said.

Pinal County Board of Supervisors Chairman Steve Miller, R-Casa Grande, said Sheriff Mark Lamb had been in discussions with the producers for “a while,” and said the idea had been conveyed to Miller as a way to showcase the professionalism of the Sheriff’s Office.

“I told the sheriff that if he ran it by (County Manager) Greg (Stanley) and legal he could make the decision (on whether to do the show),” Miller said.

Miller said it’s not uncommon for contract items to be on a consent agenda, and Thomas said the county considers the item akin to an intergovernmental agreement.

Stanley said the supervisors hadn’t previously encountered the item in either executive session or in any other public meeting.

Supervisor Pete Rios, D-Dudleyville, told PinalCentral he plans to ask for the item to be pulled from the consent agenda so supervisors will have an opportunity to hear from Lamb before voting.

“I know from past experience that human behavior changes when you’re being filmed,” Rios said, adding he wanted Lamb to assure the supervisors that “we’re not going to have deputies acting in an unusual manner.”

“I’m not convinced this is what we ought to be doing,” Rios added.

Thomas declined to provide PinalCentral with any other documents relating to the agreement, citing the fact that the contract and details weren’t finalized.

The supervisors meet Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at 135 N. Pinal St. in Florence.

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