Emergency responders are crucial in the aftermath of a storm and Lafayette residents could get an intimate look at what storm response is like from the other side this weekend.
Friday and Saturday were the Lafayette Police Department’s first filming days for the popular A&E police ride along show "Live PD." The show follows officers from police departments in rural and urban areas around the country during a night on the job. The show is currently in its third season.
Lafayette Police spokeswoman Cpl. Bridgette Dugas said the Live PD crew will regularly follow four Lafayette officers for the next six to eight weeks. The show will air live on Friday and Saturday nights with additional coverage shot during the week, she said.
The coverage will rotate between the four officers each week to give viewers a fresh perspective while also letting them get to know the officers, Dugas said. Two dogs and handlers from the department’s canine unit will also be featured on the show.
Dugas said aside from the cameras it’ll be business as usual for the officers. The department has been featured on seasons of COPS in the past and is currently in talks to be highlighted on at least two other police response shows, including the reboot of "Rescue 911" with William Shatner.
Talks for inclusion on "Live PD" began in January. Once the contract cleared the legal team and the department was assured they wouldn’t be in violation of the penal code or city-parish regulations, they were good to go, she said.
Dugas said Chief Toby Aguillard sat down with officers during a briefing to discuss the program and said anyone feeling shy or uncomfortable with the cameras wouldn’t be forced to appear on the show. Aside from a bit of camera shyness, most officers on the force were excited for the opportunity to show people the city and the work they do, she said.
“We want to be out there, and we have nothing to hide. We have great officers that are highly trained. I think it’ll better the relationship with the community and create a better understanding of the officers,” she said.
Dugas said it’s also a chance for the department to show the community it’s aiming for diversity in its force. The officers featured will include two black men, three white men and a Hispanic man.
“We want to try to show we’re trying to match the people that we’re policing,” she said.
On Friday evening, the crew from "Live PD" met the officers they’ll be following and suited up for the first time. Before setting out for the night, the show’s cameramen readied handheld cameras, grabbed bullet proof vests and fitted the officers with microphones.
Earlier in the day, the team outfitted the department’s units with dash cameras, microphones and a hookup to their headquarters in New York, Dugas said.
It was still sunny as the crew loaded into the police units about 5 p.m. Friday, the wind kicking up a bit as then-Tropical Storm Barry continued its approach toward Louisiana. The start of filming wasn’t purposefully timed to the storm’s arrival, but Dugas said it’s a good opportunity for viewers to understand what officers experience during dangerous storm situations.
“I think it will be very interesting capturing some of the situations our officers encounter during the storm. I think it’ll be eye opening for the community to see what they do during severe weather in the city,” she said.
The show will shoot from about 7:30 p.m. to roughly 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights. The footage will be fed to a live feed with a slight delay to allow for curse words to be edited out and suspects’ faces to be blurred, to protect people’s privacy, she said.
The show will air from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Central time.