Sgt. Sean “Sticks” Larkin of Live PD was a hit with viewers as a patrol officer and member of the Gang Unit of the Tulsa Police Department. He is now applying his boots-on-the-ground expertise as a guest commentator on the current season of Live PD, alongside host Dan Abrams of ABC and co-host Tom Morris, Jr.
Why do you think you resonated with the show’s fans?
You know, I’ve thought about that. I’m not an actor. I’ve never been on social media (until this past year because of the show). I guess it’s because I don’t dumb things down when I talk — to the camera, to other people, or when the camera is around. I just talk like a regular dude. A lot of law enforcement get in a courtroom and want to sound smart: “The suspect fled from the vehicle.” I’m like: “The guy jumped out of the car and ran.” I guess I just talk at a level like normal people would have a conversation.
What is your favorite crime podcast?
I listened to both Serial podcasts. The second one — on Bo Bergdahl — I found fascinating. Back story: My girlfriend at the time was in St. Louis and I live in Tulsa. So back and forth every time I was driving, I listened. But I regularly flip to the podcast app on my phone to see if there’s a new Serial yet. It’s so good.
Do you read any true crime or detective fiction writers?
I read M.J. Arlidge’s series featuring Detective Inspector Helen Grace. They take place in the U.K. Eeny Meeny is a great story about a serial killer who picks victims in pairs.
Who is your hero?
My father was a career military guy. He served 32 years in the Navy. Without a doubt that’s where my appreciation for structure and the importance of the job came from. I knew when I was seventeen I wanted to be a cop and went to school specifically for it.
What would you say to a young cop starting out?
Something I tell younger officers is that to look for bad guys, you have to think like a bad guy. If you are driving in a neighborhood and a car driving toward you turns off on a side street, ask yourself if that car turned down that street because that’s where they wanted to go or were they trying to avoid you? As a police officer, that’s how you’re going to find that car with the gang member with the gun in it, or the guy who’s wanted for robbery and avoiding police. It’s not pure luck that the gang unit finds a gun every day. It’s good police work.
Do you think the public understands that police officers are targets?
There’s a guy named Lt. Col. David Grossman who has talked about how in society you’ve got the wolves, which are your bad guys, the people that prey on others. You’ve got your sheep — normal people that go about living their lives not thinking about the bad people out there in the world. Then you’ve got the sheepdogs. They’re the law enforcement, military and people like that. There are people in society that don’t have any idea of what’s out there, of how brutal some people can be.
Do you think watching crime shows makes people more paranoid or more informed?
Law Enforcement is always under the microscope, because of the potential for abuse of power. A lot of people forget that we’re regular dudes. We’ve got kid problems, marital problems, alcohol problems just like regular people out there. But someone doesn’t walk up to a doctor or an accountant and cuss them out because they feel like it. For whatever reason, people think that for police officers that’s perfectly acceptable. And we just have to take it. A lot of people don’t understand how difficult it is dealing with that. People don’t call the police out to their house because their kid came home with straight As. People call the police when they’re typically in their worst situation. So that’s all law enforcement sees. The crappy side of people’s lives. That’s why, over years, for some officers it adds up. It’s tough.
How do you cope with that?
You’ve got to have an outlet. I have a bunch of friends not in law enforcement and we hang out at the gym. I love to go to the gym. Another part is: I don’t take it personal. There are things people say or do that are obviously personal, but I try not to let it get me.
Do you prefer to be called Sean or “Sticks”?
Sean. Sticks is my nickname at work. Nobody calls me that in my personal life. The bad guys, other police officers, attorneys—that’s what everybody calls me because of being on TV. And on the street someone will be like, “Hey sticks!”