Richland County Sheriff’s Department is lead agency in new missing persons documentary
By W. Thomas Smith Jr.
MISSING: DEAD OR ALIVE, a new NETFLIX documentary series featuring the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) as the principle law enforcement agency, premieres Wednesday, May 10. The series, chronicling the ongoing work of RCSD’s Criminal Investigations Division, will follow investigators (detectives) as they pursue leads in some of the most baffling missing persons cases, both cold and newly assigned cases where time is critical, the risks are increasing as time progresses, and the outcomes unknown.
“This new NETFLIX series is yet another means by which we are able to transparently showcase the difficult, meticulous work of RCSD,” said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. “Viewers will be able to see and have a greater appreciation for what our investigators do every day and night, their exhaustive persistence and attention to every single detail in the pursuit of the best possible outcomes when foul play may be suspected or when we simply don’t know.”
MISSING: DEAD OR ALIVE is not the first venture into national television for RCSD, though it is the first streaming channel series for the department.
Six years ago, RCSD became one of the first law enforcement agencies to be regularly featured on A&E’s wildly popular LIVE PD, and the department was the only agency to be featured every week throughout the series’ entire run from Oct. 2016 through May 2020. LIVE PD was cancelled in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the following protests and rioting.
In July 2022, the REELZ network launched ON PATROL: LIVE, considered a LIVE PD redux, wherein RCSD deputies joined the series in the first episode and continues today as a featured agency. Like the camera crews from LIVE PD who were embedded with patrol deputies and police officers, ON PATROL: LIVE crews ride with deputies and officers from participating agencies from around the nation, filming regular patrols, stops, vehicle pursuits, responses to calls, and other interactions with the communities served by those agencies in real time.
ON PATROL: LIVE airs every Friday and Saturday night (9:00 p.m. Eastern) and its companion series ON PATROL: FIRST SHIFT airs one-hour prior offering commentary from hosts Dan Abrams, Sean “Sticks” Larkin, and RCSD’s own Curtis Wilson; as well as a review of previous episodes.
“We’ve long believed that programs like LIVE PD and ON PATROL: LIVE enhance the trust-factor that is so important to us, as viewers are able to experience what we do and how we do it, unfiltered and in real time,” said Lott. “We expect the same with this new missing persons series on NETFLIX.”
For years, RCSD investigators have been interviewed by TV production companies like the UK’s BLAST! Films and subsequently featured on televised crime documentaries like DATELINE and 48 HOURS. TV series and individual episodes featuring RCSD have also aired on the INVESTIGATIONS DISCOVERY Network, the OXYGEN Channel, and HBO’s Vice News Tonight.
According to NETFLIX’s billing for the new series: “Follow officers from a South Carolina sheriff’s department [RCSD] as they urgently search for individuals who’ve disappeared under troubling circumstances.”
For more information about MISSING: DEAD OR ALIVE or to watch the series’ trailer, please visit – netflix.com.