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Pasco deputies a hit on 'LivePD' television show

ALESSANDRA DA PRA   |   Times  "Live PD" cameraman and producer Scott Mislan, right, puts a mic on Pasco County Sheriff's Office deputy Mark Pini outside the Pasco County Sheriff's Office's District 3 Office March 23. The Pasco County Sheriff's Department ranks as one of the most watched counties on the national television show.
ALESSANDRA DA PRA | Times "Live PD" cameraman and producer Scott Mislan, right, puts a mic on Pasco County Sheriff's Office deputy Mark Pini outside the Pasco County Sheriff's Office's District 3 Office March 23. The Pasco County Sheriff's Department ranks as one of the most watched counties on the national television show.
Published Apr. 24, 2018

TRINITY — On any given night, the A&E television show Live PD showcases law enforcement officers from a handful of cities across the country. It gives viewers an unfiltered police ride-along from the safety of their own couches and a peek into how officers do their jobs.

"America, you must see for yourself," reads a poster advertisement for the show.

Pasco County is a regular pit stop for Live PD. When the show comes to Pasco, the Sheriff's Office hosts a film crew five days a week with live taping on Friday and Saturday nights.

On a Friday night in March, with the sun on the verge of setting, a row of marked SUVs lined up behind the Sheriff's Office building in Trinity.

Two of the patrol vehicles were undergoing a face-lift for the show — more cameras, a strip of LED lights inside, microphones, transmitters for the live feed and two giant batteries.

Standing behind the vehicles was deputy Tiffany Bronson, trying to decide the best way to put her microphone on her uniform.

"How many takes do I get on this one?" Bronson laughed.

Bronson, 34, has been a Sheriff's deputy for nearly three years and is with the agency's Strategic Targeted Area Response, or STAR unit in Trinity, also known as District 3.

Bronson was on Live PD in the fall, but never appeared on a live camera. She said she drank lots of caffeine to prepare.

"The hardest thing when being filmed constantly is having good hair," she joked, "and staying alert for both the cameras and incidents occurring simultaneously."

Being on the show "just adds layers," to her job, she said. "You just gotta be a good multi-tasker."

Bronson had to drive, respond to calls and remember to explain to the cameras what happened, all while trying not to get tongue-tied. She sees the show as a way to re-shape how people see law enforcement officers.

"I feel like there are some viewers ... who are heavy critics and believe we may violate some laws," Bronson said. "This is something that I try to pay close attention to while on scene."

Being constantly trailed by a camera crew was the hardest part of being on the show for deputy Mark Pini. Pini, 27, works with the K-9 unit and has been with the agency for four years. He'd filmed with Live PD for about four months.

After the nerves go away, Pini said, "it's almost like you forget (the cameras) are there." However, deputies' actions are "conducted the same way as if cameras weren't there," he said.

The show has filmed with nearly 30 law enforcement agencies since it premiered in October 2016. Its staff reached out to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office in October to gauge interest.

The goal is to "document a genuine cross-section of what policing looks like across America," said Dan Cesareo, creator and executive producer of Live PD. "That means rural and urban communities, and diversity across geographical locations, to give viewers a good sense of what various officers experience while patrolling their communities."

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Cesareo also is president and founder of Big Fish Entertainment, the production company behind the series. Audience growth since the show launched is "incredible and humbling," he said.

Requests to be on the show are pouring in from counties nationwide, Cesareo said.

The Live PD audience seems to like Pasco deputies and their police dogs. On Fridays and Saturdays, "#LivePD" trends on Twitter and the Pasco sheriff's account engages hundreds of people with GIFs and memes.

"The Live PD audience built organically," said Chase Daniels, assistant executive director at the Sheriff's Office. "We are happy to be able to plug into that and watch the show and experience the show with those people.

"We have received several positive comments since the show began. The positivity has been overwhelming both locally and on social media from a national standpoint."

Contact TyLisa C. Johnson at tyjohnson@tampabay.com. Follow @tylisajohnson.

#LivePD returns tonight! What do you think we are going to see on tonight's episode? pic.twitter.com/XebDP4ti3q