GEORGETOWN, Texas - Live PD film crews started riding again with Williamson County deputies earlier this month. The trips upset county commissioners who late last year canceled a previous contract with the show's production company.
"That we are even talking about this item is ridiculous," said Commissioner Valerie Covey.
On Tuesday the Commissioners Court, in a meeting broadcast online, made it clear that they're not happy Sheriff Robert Chody made a new deal.
"Imagine my surprise and those of the community when I found out via a tweet Live PD was back in Williamson County," said Commissioner Cynthia Long.
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The court voted to send a cease and desist letter to Chody and Live PD. A few minutes after that vote the sheriff told FOX7 he would not pull the plug on the show.
"I have no intention of doing that unless legal advises me that we are doing something wrong, at this point, that does not seem to be the case," said Chody.
County Judge Bill Gravell recused himself and did not take part in the discussion, or join the vote, as he was apparently the only one to get a heads up from the sheriff about Live PD returning.
The main part of the disagreement is whether or not the Sheriff has the legal authority to make a new deal. The commissioners asked their general counsel who told them he could find no statutes that gives such authority to the sheriff in this particular case, but Chody claims the county attorney told him he can.
"I said, I know we can't do it through a contract aspect, the county attorney advised through an access agreement, I could do it, if I signed it. It would not have to go to court because it's not considered a contract," said Chody.
Commissioners argued the two documents, in their opinion, are one and the same. Another big issue is access to the show's raw video and the TV crew testifying in court cases. That point was raised by Commissioner Russ Boles.
"This means Live PD cases have never been prosecuted and are never going to be prosecuted by the D.A. The Sheriff's TV show is not real police work," said Boles.
Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick told FOX 7 some Live PD cases were dropped, but not all of them. The DA added that getting raw video and witnesses remains a problem and as a result, as of Tuesday, no Live PD cases will be prosecuted.
Commissioners say they may pursue more legal action next week. The sheriff said he hopes to avoid a court fight.
The commissioners also claimed their insurance rates are going to go up because of the situation. They condemned the sheriff for causing the controversy during the viral outbreak. The sheriff said he was not asked to appear before the commissioners, called their action an “overreach,” and condemned them for using the pandemic to bolster their argument against him.