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Long-running true crime reality show ‘Cops’ canceled in the wake of protests

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Paramount Network has permanently pulled the plug on the long-running true crime reality show Cops amid protests worldwide following the death of George Floyd in police custody. The ViacomCBS-owned network initially pulled episodes of Cops from its schedule on Friday.

"Cops is not on the Paramount Network and we don’t have any current or future plans for it to return," a network spokesperson confirmed to ET on Tuesday.

Cops launched in 1989 on Fox, where it ran for 25 seasons and was often paired with another real-life crime show, America's Most Wanted. In 2013, SpikeTV (which would later be rebranded as Paramount Network) picked up the series after Fox canceled it.

The series was set to premiere its 33rd season on Monday, but had been off the air since the beginning of the month due to protests against police brutality and systemic racism, which have continued in cities around the U.S. Cops has aired 1,100 episodes during its 31-year run.

Cops has been under scrutiny for years. A 1994 study found that the show associated black and brown people with violent crime much more frequently than it did with white people. A podcast called Running From Cops focused on episodes of the series and its impact on policing in America. It detailed questionable tactics used by police officers on Cops to persuade subjects to sign release forms in order to be filmed and the authority in which the police were given to edit out any negative footage.

Color of Change, a nonprofit civil rights advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening the political voice of black Americans, celebrated the cancellation of Cops in a statement to ET:

"For more than 30 years, Cops has miseducated the public and normalized injustice. Color Of Change has led the effort to get crime TV shows like this canceled, demanding companies create more honest depictions of crime and policing and cancel shows that misrepresent and promote harmful behaviors. We applaud Paramount and its parent company Viacom for taking a stand in response to the global demand for justice in an industry that plays a major role in shaping the way our country understands crime and policing. Now, the company’s peer networks must follow suit and end the enabling of dangerous, fictitious depictions of crime, race and justice that promote systemic racism.

For the last seven years, Color Of Change has led a campaign to cancel harmful tv shows like Cops. Earlier this year, Color Of Change released a crime television report, called Normalizing Injustice, which details the ways these widely watched shows play a significant role in advancing distorted representations of crime, justice, race and gender within our culture. It found that Crime television encourages the public to accept the norms of overpolicing and excessive force and reject reform, while supporting the exact behavior that destroys the lives of Black people.

Cops led the way, pushing troubling implications for generations of viewers. Now it’s time for other networks to cancel similarly harmful shows. We call on A&E to cancel Live PD next. In a moment when everyone wants to proclaim that Black Lives Matter, we must hold these companies accountable to put actions to words with a complete industry overhaul."

In addition to Cops being shelved indefinitely, A&E's top-rated program, Live PD, was also taken off the schedule. The series, which airs live Friday and Saturday nights, follows police officers in real time as they patrol cities across the country.

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