Every weekend, nearly 2 million people join a virtual ride-along with officers, now including the Pomona Police Department (PD), through the latest season of “Live PD.”
Produced by Big Fish Entertainment, this documentary series on the A&E television network attempts to improve relations between the community and law enforcement.
Responding to America’s heated discussion on policing, the show follows nine police departments — with the Pomona PD being the only division representing the West Coast — to document how patrols are actually being handled.
The Pomona PD made its first grand entrance to the show on season four, episode 28, which aired on Jan. 3.
Former Police Chief Michael Olivieri, who retired on Jan. 30, told the Daily Bulletin that he values transparency and believes it is important to show the public what is happening in Pomona.
“They represent us very well,” Olivieri told the Daily Bulletin on Jan. 9. “You can’t be much more transparent than to invite a couple million people to watch you perform your job.”
Producers of “Live PD” reached out to the Pomona department near the end of 2018 to feature it on the show, but did not get an approval for their request until late 2019.
Olivieri said he did not immediately approve the invitation due to his unfamiliarity with the show, but began reconsidering after speaking to his department staff. The idea was also brought up in community and council meetings until he decided that “Live PD” would be a great opportunity to show the public an accurate representation of what the officers face on a typical day.
Although the department is not paid to be on the show, it can cancel the agreement at any time.
The film crew follows the Pomona officers for several hours each night. A cameraman films from the passenger seat, often having to chase down suspects alongside the officer. Dashboard cameras are also installed and a producer sits in the backseat during taping.
The officers demonstrate professionalism throughout their busy nights, and viewers — both local and national — have showered the department with support. Officers Eric O’Mahony and Shreef Erfan, who were followed on the first night of filming, became the center of attention for their calm demeanors.
Erfan also mentioned that he attended Cal Poly Pomona, majoring in management and human resources, from 2001 through 2004.
Although the officers were not accustomed to having a camera crew riding along with them, O’Mahony and Erfan both agreed that the show’s staff is professional, and they rarely notice the presence of the cameras.
“The folks from the show are super down-to-earth, (which) makes everything so easy, and (that) makes you feel comfortable,” Erfan said. “It’s like having friends in the car at this point.”
Fans from around the country have been calling the station asking for an opportunity to meet the featured officers, and a handful of callers have requested autographed pictures of O’Mahony.
Pomona PD Spokeswoman Aly Mejia confirmed that the public response to the show has been positive. During their recent “Coffee with a Cop” event that took place on Jan. 21 in a Starbucks on Foothill Boulevard, many community members who attended were appreciative of the Pomona PD for showing their officers at work.
“Although we are on national television, we’re doing this for our community,” Mejia said.
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