Paterson police to be featured on new reality show, and activists are not happy. Here's why

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PATERSON — City police officers are participating in the revival of a law enforcement reality television show that was canceled two years ago amid protests over George Floyd's death.

Mayor Andre Sayegh said he was “honored and excited” that Paterson is part of the police documentary-style show, “On Patrol: Live,” which will air on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to midnight on the Reelz cable network.

Paterson police are scheduled to be part of the first broadcast.

“We have an incredible team of men and women within our police department that every day work in service for our community,” Sayegh said in a press release. “I look forward to seeing Paterson’s Finest represent our great city.”

But local social justice advocates are questioning Paterson’s involvement in the show.

Paterson police were at the scene of a fatal shooting near the intersection of Rosa Parks Boulevard and Franklin Street in Paterson  around 10 p.m. on July 3, 2021.
Paterson police were at the scene of a fatal shooting near the intersection of Rosa Parks Boulevard and Franklin Street in Paterson around 10 p.m. on July 3, 2021.

“It’s sad that Paterson has chosen to be part of something that dehumanizes people,” said Liza Chowdhury of Reimagining Justice, a local group that conducts violence intervention programs.

Chowdhury said there’s a great deal of “distrust” among city residents because of the recent problems in the Paterson Police Department.

“We should be trying to mend the relationship instead of utilizing Hollywood,” she said.

Chowdhury predicted that in search of ratings, the show will depict Paterson in the worst possible light and feed the perception of the city as a dangerous place.

“This just continues that stereotype,” she said.

“On Patrol: Live” is being produced by the same host and analysts who worked on “Live PD,” the highly popular A&E network program taken off the air in June 2020. Numerous television critics have described the “new” show as a revival or rebranding of “Live PD.”

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“Law enforcement is front and center in the national discussion, and our hope is that showing the work of police officers in a live format will provide viewers with direct access to the work they do,” Dan Abrams, the host of the show, said in a press release.

Abrams opposed the cancellation of “Live PD” two years ago, according to multiple news stories at that time.

Several years ago, the Paterson Police Department was featured on the “Cops” television show, and the city also provided the backdrop more than a decade ago for “Cops” episodes showing Passaic County sheriff’s officers making drug busts in the city.

Paterson Press sent Sayegh a message Friday asking whether city officials discussed the participation in “On Patrol: Live” with community leaders. But the mayor did not respond.

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Zellie Thomas, founder of Paterson’s Black Lives Matter group, said that in the two years since Floyd’s murder, the city has not gotten any “substantial” police reform. He said law enforcement reality shows “rebrand police officers and put them in a better light.”

Thomas called Paterson’s participation in the cop reality show “testament to the administration of Paterson not being committed to social justice and racial justice.”

Joe Malinconico is editor of Paterson Press.


This article originally appeared on Paterson NJ police to appear on new Reelz reality show