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Tallahassee Officers Hope ‘Live PD’ Reflects Good Police Work

blue and red lights flash on a police car. The sky behind the lights is dark.
Photo by Andrea Ferrario on Unsplash

It’s been about five months since the Tallahassee police Department joined the A&E series “Live PD.” The show features local officers doing police work and makings arrests. TPD’s Damon Miller talked with WFSU about how what’s on the show might differ from reality.

“Live PD” shows Tallahassee officers talking with residents, chasing down possible kidnappers, and arresting suspected thieves.

In a recent clip from the show, police apprehend a man who they believe stole a wallet from a local restaurant. They tase the suspect multiple times as they attempt to cuff him. Officer Damon Miller has served as TPD’s spokesman and has appeared on the show. He says tasers help protect everyone involved.

“A couple things with the tasers,” Miller says. “They actually cut down on injuries to officers and also the suspects.”

"Once the taser goes off, it is over with. There are no aftershocks. There is no cleanup."

Why Using Tasers Might Be The Best Option

Miller says he’s been tased and knows exactly what the people he arrests are going through.

“Once the taser goes off, it’s over with.” Miller says. “There’s no aftershocks. There’s no cleanup or hazard like if you use OC spray. Basically when someone is tased and the probes go through their skin, a supervisor is called on scene per our policy and we also call EMS on scene to remove all the probes and make sure that you’re medically clear before you go to jail.”

Miller also points out that it is difficult for viewers to see from their television screens what officers are experiencing in the field.

What Resisting Arrest Actually Looks Like

“When people think of resisting you hear us say ‘stop resisting, stop resisting!’ They think of resisting as he wasn’t running away, he was just lying there,” Miller says.

But Miler says recognizing that someone is resisting an arrest can be more difficult than a person might think. He gives an example of an interaction he had with a Tallahassee community member as officers arrested a woman across the street.

“A person said ‘why did they do that to that person?’ I was listening to the radio. I had an earpiece in and I said, ‘well she was tensing up.” They said ‘she wasn’t tensing up. I was looking at her.’ So me standing right next to that person, I said ‘am I tensing up right now?’ They said ‘no you’re not.’ I said ‘actually I am.’ So I said ‘how can you tell someone is not tensing up across the street if I’m standing here right in front of you and you can’t tell?’”

Miller says most arrests officers make are peaceful. But those aren’t typically the ones “Live PD” shows. Miller says he became a police officer to help people and hopes the show highlights the good work the city’s police do.

“It gives you an overall view of not only what is going on within your city, but the life of a police officer. We also see it as a possible recruitment tool," Miller said.

TPD Is Looking For New Officers To Join Its Ranks

"We do have 40 positions available because a lot of people are retiring. Especially with the promotion of our new chief and the possibility of even more promotions here—we need bodies. We need officers and hopefully people can see, hey this is a good agency to work for," Miller said.

Applications closed Friday for three new TPD deputy chief positions.


Follow @Regan_McCarthy

Regan McCarthy is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media. Before coming to Tallahassee, Regan graduated with honors from Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She worked for several years for NPR member station WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., where she covered local and state government and produced feature and community stories.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

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