Bad boys -- or good guys? "Cops" to return Oct 1

Watcha gonna do — watcha gonna do when they come for you? We saw what the producers and broadcasters of police-related reality TV did last summer as riots erupted nationwide in the wake of George Floyd’s death … turn tail and run. Now, in a measure of just how badly “defund the police” has flopped, the most venerable show in the genre will make a comeback, although only on a streaming service:

Fox News Media is bringing back the TV show “Cops” this fall.

The network will premier the 33rd season of the long-running reality TV police show via its streaming network Fox Nation on Oct. 1, the network announced.

The debut will include the first four episodes of the new season, and each new installment of the show thereafter will drop weekly on Friday nights.

“Cops” was canceled by Paramount Network last year following protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by now-former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Several other networks also stopped airing reality TV shows featuring police work following Floyd’s death, like A&E’s “Live PD.”

Granted, Fox News Media has a built-in audience that tends to strongly favor law enforcement. Had they picked up Cops in June 2020 from Paramount, it likely wouldn’t have created any headaches for them at all that they don’t already experience as part of their political positioning. In fact, one has to wonder why it’s only occurring to them now to do so.

Now is as good a time as any, though. The smoke has cleared from the meltdown of the summer of 2020, and the rapid rise in homicides has communities seeking more policing, not less. The absurdity of “defund the police” has become so apparent in the wake of the destabilization that even a clear progressive like Keisha Lance Bottoms has made that point publicly. While people still want accountability for bad policing, the past fifteen months has been an object lesson for most Americans on the necessity of robust and assertive policing, especially in urban areas.

With that said, though, Cops might not have been the most propitious vehicle for an initial return to law-enforcement reality TV. Cops uses recorded and edited episodes that may be entertaining but lack the transparency of Live PD. That show mainly relied on 30-second-delay live transmissions of everyday interactions by police, a transparency that made it not just more compelling but also more authentic. It allowed viewers to see how law enforcement occurs in almost real time, and gave us a very good look at the challenges on both sides in enforcement of the law and keeping of the peace.

Will A&E rethink its cancellation of Live PD? Perhaps if Cops finds a large audience, they might — which is a good reason to cheer for Cops’ success.