'COPS' Resumes Production After Cancellation, But Series Won't Air in the US

Cops, the controversial long-running reality show that followed police officers in action, has quietly resumed production after it was canceled in June during the protests against police brutality. The new episodes will not be broadcast on U.S. television though. Cops debuted in 1989 and became one of the longest-running television shows in U.S. history before Paramount Network canceled it.

The new episodes are being filmed in Spokane County, Washington, where episodes have been filmed in the passed, reports The Hollywood Reporter. "We have a longstanding relationship with Cops and [series producer] Langley Productions, and we are pleased they have decided to return, highlighting the outstanding work our deputies provide to all of you," the Spokane County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. Two crews began filming in September and will stay with deputies through early November. None of the episodes will air in the U.S. Series producer Langley Productions told THR the episodes are only being filmed to fulfill commitments to international broadcasters that still air the show.

Cops started on Fox before moving to Spike in 2013. When Spike was rebranded as the Paramount Network in 2018, it continued airing the show until June. It was expected to return for a 33rd season in June, but Paramount stopped airing new episodes in early May. Days after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis inspired nationwide protests against police brutality, the network stopped airing the show completely. "Cops is not on the Paramount Network and we don't have any current or future plans for it to return," a spokesperson said at the time.

Even before Floyd's death in May, Cops had long been a controversial program. The series gives viewers a "fly on the wall" experience of policing, with camera crews following officers responding to 911 calls. It was criticized for focusing on crimes committed by the poor and studies found that it disproportionately covered crimes committed by Black men. "COPS launched in 1989 and helped sell the War on Drugs to the American people," Dan Taberski, who hosted a podcast on the series called Running From Cops, tweeted in June. "I’m hopeful its cancellation 31 years later is a sign of positive change to come."

A&E canceled its own police reality show, Live P.D., which similarly followed police officers, after Floyd's death. That show is at the center of a legal battle in Williamson County, Texas, where deputies Tasered a Black man who later died. The footage did not air and was deleted. Prosecutors charged Sheriff Robert Chody on evidence tampering charges, accusing him of playing a role in the footage's deletion.