“This show has become a part of my DNA, and I certainly want a partner who feels the same way,” Abrams, 56, told The Post. “Reelz is really excited about this series; they’re committing a lot of their entire network to the series and are going to put their marketing behind it.”
“Live PD,” which premiered in 2016, was axed by A&E and producer Big Fish Entertainment in June 2020 in the wake of George Floyd’s death, which spurred national outrage over police brutality. At the time, it was A&E’s top-rated series and had just received an additional 160-episode order.
The long-running series “Cops,” which aired on Fox for 25 seasons before moving to Spike TV — which then morphed into Paramount Network — was canceled the day before “Live PD.” It returned to the streaming service Fox Nation for its 33rd season in October 2021.
At the time of “Live PD’s” cancellation, Abrams tweeted that he was “shocked & beyond disappointed” and vowed “More to come …”
“I was very clear when the show was taken off that I was disappointed in the decision,” he said. “I understood it, but I felt strongly that the show belonged on the air. There were a number of times where I said on social media that I felt that by the end of 2021 the show would be back on the air … but it was really important to find the right partner.
“We have a lot of people in this community who are into the show and are really invested in it [and] we didn’t want a short-term commitment. This is a show about being there with the police departments and embedding with them and becoming part of those communities, to some degree.”
Abrams said he anticipates that the show’s return will ignite anger in some quarters.
“Yeah, I would expect there will be some backlash, mostly from people who’ve never seen the show,” he said. “And that’s OK. Look, policing is controversial, that’s the point of the show, to show police doing what they do, and what they do can be controversial. I’m prepared [for the criticism] and the producers are prepared for it — but, most importantly, people who watched the show regularly are now really excited about this new version.”
Abrams will be joined in the show’s Jersey City studios by his “Live PD” co-host Sean “Sticks” Larkin, a retired Tulsa Police Department lieutenant, and by Curtis Wilson, who serves as Deputy Sheriff in the Richland County (South Carolina) Sheriff’s Department. Wilson, who appeared on “Live PD,” is also a news anchor at WOLO TV in Columbia, S.C. and is a host on two local radio stations.
(Original “Live PD” analyst Tom Morris Jr. was asked to return for “On Patrol: Live” but was unavailable. “The timing just didn’t work out,” Abrams said.)
The series will air Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to midnight and will include several new elements, including “Citizen Ride-Alongs.”
“It allows a combination of people who are watching the show, who happen to live in the communities we cover, to go on ride-alongs and report back to us on how it was … and if there was anything behind-the-scenes that we were missing,” Abrams said. “I think that’s an upgrade for the show.” The people who participate in the ride-alongs will appear on-camera during those episodes, and will also join Abrams, Larkin and Wilson in the studio for a “Citizens On-Set” segment to share their experiences.
Friday’s series opener will feature the Paterson Police Dept. (Paterson, NJ); Beech Grove Police Department (Beech Grove, IN); Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office (Moncks Corner, SC); Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (Albuquerque, NM); Marion County Sheriff’s Office (Ocala, Fla.); Nye County Sheriff’s Office (Pahrump, NV); Richland County Sheriff’s Office (Columbia, SC); and Volusia County Sheriffs Office (Fla).
“On Patrol: Live” will also work with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).
“That’s going to be a really important part of the show,” Abrams said. “One of the things I was most proud of on the old show was how powerful that segment was in helping to find missing kids [and] wanted criminals.” The show will also partner with other organizations that will be announced at a later date.
“It’s important, when people do analysis about shows coming back, and why this one was on or off the air, to understand that ‘Live PD’ was longer-form; it was sometimes show — we’re watching a traffic stop and sometimes that’s all that happens,” Abrams said. “And that’s OK, because that’s part of what this show is … this is watching police officers in action, watching situations unfold.
“I think in an era where people are generally more supportive of body cameras on police officers, on both sides now, that people would say this is a good thing to see more police in action.”