‘Cops,’ Long-Running Reality Show That Glorified Police, Is Canceled
“Cops” is no longer.
The Paramount Network confirmed on Tuesday that it had removed the reality show from its schedule, as protests nationwide call for police reform. Late last month, the network had temporarily cut the show from its schedule.
“‘Cops’ is not on the Paramount Network and we don’t have any current or future plans for it to return,” a spokeswoman for the network said.
Spike TV, the predecessor to the Paramount Network, picked up “Cops” in 2013 after the show was canceled by Fox, its network home for 25 years. The show’s 33rd season was expected to premiere on Paramount on June 15.
The death of George Floyd last month in Minneapolis has catalyzed a movement, setting off hundreds of protests and efforts to change criminal justice policy. Mr. Floyd, a black man, was held down for nearly nine minutes by a white police officer.
The civil rights group Color of Change began a campaign in 2013 urging Fox not to renew the unscripted law-enforcement show and called on advertisers to withdraw support. Since “Cops” made its debut in 1989, the group said, the network, the show’s producers and the advertisers “have built a profit model around distorted and dehumanizing portrayals of black Americans and the criminal justice system.”
The organization argued that although “Cops” was marketed as unbiased, the show “offers a highly filtered version of crime and the criminal justice system — a ‘reality’ where the police are always competent, crime-solving heroes and where the bad boys always get caught.”
The cancellation from Fox’s prime-time lineup was a small victory for Color of Change in March 2013, until Spike TV picked up the show that May. It has run on the cable network ever since.
“This is the right move and I want to give Paramount credit for being one of the first,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change. “We want to see more.”
He added, “These cop reality shows that glorify police but will never show the deep level of police violence are not reality, they are P.R. arms for law enforcement. Law enforcement doesn’t need P.R. They need accountability in this country.”
“Cops” has provided Paramount with subpar if stable ratings. In mid-May, the show had about 470,000 total viewers per episode, according to Nielsen data. To compare, “Pawn Stars” on the History channel had 816,000.
In 2017, “Cops” celebrated its 1,000th episode. Its first episode featured a raid on a Florida crack house. According to a 2005 report in Broadcasting & Cable, most police departments, which reserved the right to screen the video before the broadcast, said the show served as a recruiting tool.
The show has followed officers in Britain, Hong Kong, Russia and the United States.
Brooks Barnes contributed reporting.