One of the most beloved deputies on the A&E documentary series “Live PD” is leaving the show.
Kevin Lawrence, formerly a deputy at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, is now an investigator in the department’s criminal investigations division. The promotion means Lawrence will no longer patrol the streets of Richland County on the hit show, which is nearing the end of its second season.
“I’ve been on the show for close to two years,” said Lawrence, an 11-year veteran of the Richland County force. “Signing up to be in law enforcement, this show has brought a lot of notoriety to me, but at the same time I’m a private person.”
His levelheadedness, quick wit and no-nonsense personality made Lawrence a hit among fans, who dubbed him “Mr. Cool” and “K-Law.” But Lawrence said he wasn’t seeking fame or constant public recognition when he entered law enforcement years ago as a reserve deputy in Aiken County.
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“I can’t do the daily activities that most people do without getting recognized,” he said. “I’m a quiet person for the most part. I’m a private person. I’m a loner, whether people believe it or not. I’m always by myself. I like to be to myself. It was just kind of interfering a little bit.”
But the recognition and the positive things fans and viewers have said about law enforcement are also what Lawrence said he’ll miss most.
“I can go to any restaurant, any store and you have little kids running up to you, wanting to be in law enforcement again, respecting law enforcement officers and just that big smile on the little viewers’ faces,” he said.
‘The funniest stop ever’
Throughout two seasons on the show, Lawrence has delivered a number of heart-to-hearts, one liners and animated facial expressions.
His favorite call on the show, though, was a traffic stop on Two Notch Road last summer. Lawrence and then-Senior Deputy Chris Mastrianni pulled over a pickup carrying two brothers, one of whom was celebrating his birthday. The passenger threw a can of beer out of the truck.
“Usually when people that have been drinking or driving are pulled over, they try to throw the alcohol away from the car,” Lawrence said. “This guy was so intoxicated, he just threw it at Mastrianni.”
The driver at one point looked into the camera, his hands cuffed behind his back, and professed his love for a woman named “Keisha.”
“I couldn’t stop laughing,” Lawrence recalled. “I had to hold myself back. It was the funniest stop ever.”
‘I knew it was something bad’
One of the show’s scariest moments came not long after that.
Lawrence recalled the July 2017 chase and crash involving Mastrianni, after which Mastrianni was shown trying to wrestle the driver to the ground as the man flung his young daughter around under his arm.
While the show’s viewers saw the action unfolding live, Lawrence said he only knew what was happening through radio transmissions as he sped toward the scene.
“(Mastrianni) wasn’t talking on the radio and he’s great at communicating,” Lawrence said. “I knew it was something bad, but I could only go as fast as the truck would let me go and my capabilities and training would let me go..”
‘It may not be the end’
Incidents like that happen often, a fact to which Lawrence said “Live PD” has opened the eyes of the general public.
In another episode, Lawrence stopped a driver for an altered paper tag. It turned out the man had a warrant for attempted murder.
“Unfortunately, this is one of those jobs where the simplest and most minute thing could ultimately cost you your life,” he said. “The simple things always lead to big things.”
The show has allowed its officers to use their star power for good causes and fundraising efforts. Lawrence said it’s also helped him realize “I’m more patient than I actually thought I was.”
Following in the footsteps of his now-fellow investigator Mastrianni, who left the show in March after getting promoted, Lawrence said he’s thankful for the in-depth look and context “Live PD” gives to police work, and for the support of law enforcement it has generated among viewers.
“It’s been a wonderful ride,” he said. “Who knows — it may not be the end. But, for right now, it’s the end. Just look forward to the future, because you never know what’ll happen.”