A typical episode featured four segments, a cold case story and usually a quiz relating to police statistics. Unlike COPS, Life on the Beat featured incidental music and a narrator. At the time of the series, the LAPD still had only 18 stations, so camera crews would cover as many stations as possible and had episodes featuring multiple areas of Los Angeles. Episodes featured routine patrol, vice units, gang units, and even SWAT calls. Many segments also featured the Air Support Division. For a large amount of Patrol based segments, cameras would flip back and forth between ground and aerial angles.
Officer Jeff Alley played a huge role by making sure that the TV crews always had a deeper understanding of what was really going on. He didn't play up the camera but instead took the great opportunity to educate those in TV land about police work with pros and cons of situations and allowed those with an interest in law enforcement to have a better understanding about the job. Officer Alley along with the Colomeys and O'Donnell were some of LAPD's greatest recruiters.
In a couple episodes, Life on the Beat filmed with Hollywood Division Officer's J.C. Flores and Jeri Snell, the two were assigned to the Domestic Violence Unit, Both Flores and Snell could also be seen on TLC's Hollywood COPS working the same detail.
On TLC's Women In Blue, Officer Monica Labato is working CRASH in Newton area, She can also be seen on an early episode of Life on the Beat working patrol also in Newton.
Throughout the series, SWAT Special Weapons And Tactics is seen responding emergency calls and while raiding narcotics locations. From barricaded suspects to the North Hollywood shootout SWAT segemnts were seen throughout the show, one particular SWAT officer was Randal Simmons. He can be seen in episodes filmed from 1996-1998 on different call-ups. He was killed in February 2008 during a standoff in Winnetka, CA and was LAPD's first SWAT fatality in 40 years of being in business. Four days after the death of Officer Randal Simmons, FOX Reality re-aired an episode feauturing Randy and SWAT. The network at the time was playing as many as three Life on the Beat re-runs per day. At the beginning and end of this particular episode Fox decided to pay tribute and create an End Of Watch memorial graphic with Randy's photograph on it.
Surprisingly, for having many camera operators through the city and having access to SWAT,Air Support and other special details, Life on the Beat was not on scene with officers for both the North Hollywood Shootout and the North Valley Jewish Community Center shooting. In both cases, in the weeks and months leading up to these events Life on the Beat was filming with the same officers assigned to the same areas,and shifts as those who would later respond to these events. For the North Hollywood incident, Special segemnts were filmed with exclusive interviews with those involved at the scene including all SWAT members, SWAT Officer Pete Wiereter, who led efforts in rescuing downed officers and civilians, SWAT officer Don Anderson who led a team of three SWAT officers, including himself, Steve Gomez and Rich Massa, together stopping the remaining gunman by deploying in a cruiser and interceepting the gunman in the middle of a residential street by performing a vehicle assault takedown, killing the final gunman and ending the icident. Traffic Officer Conrad Torrez is featured regarding his actions in engaging the first gunman with gunfire, He is the officer believed to have killed the first suspect while that suspect was believed to have also been trying to kill himself after his gun jammed. Other Interviews were conducted with Sergeant Dean Haynes and others such as Tracy Angeles and James Zboravan. Officer Zboravan was filmed in the months leading up to the shootout working North Hollywood patrol as a probationary with only a couple months on the job from the academy.
It's very remarkable given the amount of time filming with LAPD, Valley units, SWAT, and also Air Support that on February 28, 1997, Life on the Beat was not filming with any of those officers. They did get very exclusive information and Interviews as outlined above. Most of those segemnts were hosted by Captain Rich Wahler of North Hollywood Division. In 2006, History tried to set the record straight regarding the North Hollywood shootout as it remains to this day as one of the most influential events of modern American history, ranking third overall of documented U.S. events of recent years behind 9/11 and the War on Terror according to the History Channel. The amount of information given and explained in the History channel documentary was done very well, however still, Life on the Beat the whole time had more information, more access and more facts about the incident and since 1997 many media outlets have made their share of versions including MSNBC, Discovery, BBC, TLC, National Geographic and others. Life on the Beat's account remains the most informative and most accurate.
Reruns of the show currently air on Fox Reality.