“Live PD” and other reality television shows broadcasting alongside Spokane police officers face new regulations that Spokane City Council members say will help the city avoid exposure considered unbecoming.
On a 5 to 1 vote Monday, the council passed a new law requiring the likes of the popular Live PD to obtain a business license, $1 million of liability insurance and written consent from people who are captured on video interacting with police.
The new regulations also give the Spokane Police Department authority to review footage prior to airing and imposes fines on crews that broadcast pictures of people without their permission.
Councilman Breean Beggs said the city rules won’t stop reality television shows from filming, but it levels the playing field between producers and participants.
“Every other reality television show before they broadcast it – they get that consent of people who are on the show,” he said. “We as individuals have the right to our name, likeness our image and people can’t take that away from you.”
Although the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office had an agreement with Live PD to film, the Spokane Police Department does not. The city has previously appeared on shows such as C.O.P.S., but film crews obtained a business license to film and allowed prior review of footage.
The city proposed the ordinance to protect individuals from public scrutiny when appearing in shows without their permission as well as preventing the “over-representation” of violent crime, minorities as perpetrators of crime, and the over-representation of resolved crimes. The city claims the for profit shows financially gain from showing the likeness of an individual in extreme distress.
Under the new ordinance, individuals that appear intoxicated or exhibit signs of mental illness would not be able to give consent for appearance.
City Council President Ben Stuckart said he’s proud of work done and transparency of the city, stating the first thing he sponsored was the body camera program in 2012.
“But that is reality – what happens on those (body) cameras versus whats edited,” he said. “Filming somebody where you make a profit is not a right or a privilege…we have a duty to protect our citizens.”
City Councilwoman Lori Kinnear said she’s received a lot of emails and phone calls for and against the ordinance, but also supports it.
“For me, this ordinance protects the personal privacy rights of our citizens,” she said. “Contact by law enforcement is not a guilty verdict. Many of the people featured on these reality television programs are probably experiencing probably the worst day of their lives. It’s the obligation of the producer to obtain consent.”
Local journalism is essential.
The journalists of The Spokesman-Review are a part of the community. They live here. They work here. They care. You can help keep local journalism strong right now with your contribution. Thank you.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.