A&E's Live PD to follow Erie County Sheriff's Office?

Big Fish Entertainment and sheriff's office in discussion about bringing "law enforcement documentary" to WNY

Mike Baggerman
October 26, 2018 - 3:00 am

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - The Erie County Sheriff's Office is looking to bring in New York City-based production company "Big Fish Entertainment", which produces shows like Live PD, for a law enforcement documentary. 

In addition to Live PD, Big Fish Entertainment is the production company behind television shows like "America Wild and Wacky", "Florida Spring Break Fever", and several others.

Live PD follows various police departments throughout the country. It is live but on a broadcast delay because of the confidentiality. It also includes police analysts throughout the course of the program. Live PD, and affiliated shows Live PD: PD Cam, and Live PD: Women on Patrol, are the only shows that specifically follow law enforcement officials.

"We're still in the very initial stages," Erie County Sheriff spokesperson Scott Zylka told WBEN. "We were contacted by a TV production company. They do have a new concept out there about a law enforcement show. It would be similar to a Live PD, which is broadcast on A&E. The nuts and bolts of it are still under negotiation. The concept is protected because it is their concept."

He thinks a television documentary/reality show following the Erie County Sheriff's can present what the Erie County Sheriff's duties are every day.

"We can show off the great deputies we have," Zylka said. "It is an opportunity. The good thing is, most people don't have law enforcement interactions and we're happy with that, but they should see what our deputies do on an everyday basis, what they do for public safety, and what they do for protection. Putting their lives on the line for the citizens of Erie County."

Zylka was present at Thursday's meeting with the Erie County Legislature and presented in front of the public safety committee. The six-person committee was split on a vote to receive and file the resolution to allow the sheriff's office to partner with the production company for at least a year, which would have ended any chance of a reality show following the Erie County Sheriff's Office. 

That means there's still a chance for the show to follow the sheriff's office.

April Baskin, the chairwoman of the Erie County Public Safety Committee, expressed a concern over the show. 

"I'd like for the sheriff's office and for all oversight bodies regarding public safety in Erie County to first consider priorities," Baskin said. "From what was said today by (Zylka), it didn't seem like the sheriff's office would have much control over the editing or the perspective that would be shared nationally with all the ongoings of recording our deputies with civilians. It did not sound like there had been any work to see if anybody in Erie County that works in the profession of film or entertainment could be considered to be employed. Nobody gave any type of response to a benefit to the county in this attempt to have a reality show."

Baskin, along with John Bruso and Tom Loughran voted down the idea of the show while Lynne Dixon, Peter Savage, and Ed Rath voted in favor of further discussion. 

"I'll have to make a point to watch the show so I can learn a little more about it, actually," Lynne Dixon said. "They did mention international borders. Maybe part of that appeal is that Buffalo and Erie County are so close to the Canadian border. Certainly anytime you're talking about the entertainment industry coming to Western New York, it piques people's interest."

WATCH: Clip from A&E's Live PD

Like Dixon, Baskin never saw the show. 

The resolution in the Erie County Legislature would allow the production company to gain access to county facilities and sheriff's vehicles. During the committee meeting, Zylka said the production company would not get access inside the Erie County Holding Center. The resolution also states that there is no impact on county tax dollars and the term of the agreement would be one year from signing with an option to extend the agreement through 2020. 

Big Fish Entertainment did not return our request for comment about a potential partnership with the Erie County Sheriff's Office. 

In the past, the television show COPS followed the Buffalo Police Department. 


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