In spring 2017, Austin police shared surveillance videos of a gun-toting masked man suspected in 10 central Texas robberies — who then was quickly apprehended. This past March, a 9-year-old Texas girl, taken from her home more than a year earlier, was recovered in New Mexico. And in August, a tip led to the recovery of a Maryland teen in a matter of days.
The common thread: A&E’s popular cop ride-along docuseries Live PD, which has been helping bring the closure to cases since its 2016 debut. "We engage our committed viewership, who dub themselves Live PD Nation, and utilize them for the greater good," executive producer Dan Cesareo says. About 2 million viewers watch every Friday and Saturday night, and this rabid fanbase is dialed in — literally. Here’s how they’re helping the good guys win.
The Dan Abrams-hosted show airs live on weekends.
On the Hunt
PD’s twice-weekly Wanted segments — Cesareo calls them "our version of a national neighborhood watch" — air videos or photos of suspects in hopes someone will recognize them. The crimes range from homicide to dog-napping. "Police departments reach out to us to help, and we [contact] them when we come upon newsworthy cases," Cesareo says.
With the Austin holdups, he says, "The case hit a dead end. They had really run out of leads." That is, until a sharp-eyed viewer reportedly recognized the perp as a former coworker. Overall, Live PD has aided police in 11 instances.
Lost and Found
The weekly Missing segment focuses on children abducted or otherwise taken from their homes. Exposure from Live PD, which works in tandem with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, has led to seven success stories. Says Cesareo, himself the father of two young kids, "I can’t imagine the pain and grief these families go through. Every time we can offer up that help, we’re motivated to do so."
More to Come
In September, A&E ordered an extraordinary 150 additional episodes of the three-hour show. The proud producer’s reaction: "I think Live PD has become a big part of the conversation."
Live PD, Fridays, 9/8c, A&E