FLORENCE — The company that produced the “Live PD” television show will return to Pinal County to tape sheriff’s officers on the job for another year, according to an agreement approved 4-1 Wednesday by the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.
Sheriff Mark Lamb told the board the show promotes the Sheriff’s Office. “We think it will be a huge boost for hiring again” and “it doesn’t cost the county any money,” Lamb said.
But Supervisor Steve Miller, R-Casa Grande, said he doesn’t see the benefits to the county.
“I think we see a lot of liability for very little return.” If the sheriff needs to recruit good employees, Miller said, he’d rather see the county spend money from its General Fund to find those people. He eventually cast the “no” vote on the contract.
Supervisor Todd House, R-Apache Junction, said Superstition Fire and Medical in his district will be featured on a show called “Live Rescue.” Two Pinal County agencies will have national attention, and “I like to highlight our county any way we can,” House said.
House added later that “Live Rescue” won’t be taping while the threat of COVID-19 infection remains strong. “They’re using more caution for their people than we do for our front-line people.”
Big Fish Entertainment previously tagged along with Pinal County deputies for 10 or 11 months in 2017 and 2018 to produce “Live PD.” The show posed no liability issues for the county, the sheriff said. “They indemnify us and name us on their insurance. We’re as covered as we can be,” Lamb said.
Miller was unpersuaded. “The courts are full of people who’ve been indemnified,” Miller said.
Also opposed was citizen Roberto Reveles of Gold Canyon, who submitted a comment urging the board to reject the contract.
Lamb responded that Reveles has objections to nearly everything the Sheriff’s Office brings to the supervisors, and this time he’s referring to allegations that already have been shown to be false.
The county’s contract with Big Fish Entertainment LLC is for one year, but the parties may extend the term by mutual agreement. Big Fish’s current plans call for a TV series called “Almost Live” featuring officers in cities across the country for eight to 12 weeks.
“In Florence, we propose embedding with Pinal County Sheriff’s Office on ‘Ride Alongs’ to capture the ‘real-time’ perspective and diversity within the department and the city,” according to an exhibit accompanying the contract. “The story will be told through the ‘Almost Live’ experiences on patrol. In addition to the ‘Almost Live’ content, episodes will feature pretaped packages that will further showcase the officers, the work, the locations and the departments.”
Lamb told the supervisors that appearing on “Live PD” previously was not only beneficial to the Sheriff’s Office but to Pinal County. “Anytime we do something at the Sheriff’s Office, I hope you guys understand that we always look at what’s best for our employees, the Sheriff’s Office, the county and the taxpayers.”
As for hiring, “(the show) was a tremendous boost for us when we had it before,” Lamb said. “Our numbers have slipped down again and we need to do another hiring push, especially if we add more deputies on to our agency.
“So this is an opportunity to promote our agency,” the sheriff said. “We believe it will be a huge boost for hiring again. It is completely transparent, it is no different than if our guys had body cams on.”