Peace Officer Examines the Militarization of America's Police Force
Over the past couple of months, I felt like I couldn't turn on the television without seeing police armed and dressed like military personnel. It's a strange feeling. Well, I don't think strange is the right word. Maybe disarming, disgusting, or horrifying are better words.
I hate to admit this but it became a conscious decision for me to leave the television off. And if it was on, I'd stay away from any of the news channels. I know that can probably be seen as irresponsible of me (being that I'm a 20-something that should be informed) but it was completely heartbreaking* watching peaceful protests be broken up by violence and then reported as if the protesters were in the wrong.
There's something I still don't understand about the militarization of America's police force and there is definitely a part of me that wants to understand why. And fortunately -- for me and hopefully others like me -- Peace Officer (a documentary about this exact issue) will address my curiosity.
Peace Officer follows William Lawrence, a former sheriff who helped found his state's first SWAT team that -- 30 years later -- was responsible for the death of his son-in-law in a lethal stand-off.
Throughout the trailer, filmmakers Brad Barber and Scott Christopherson tackle the issue in a completely objective way. Something that I, honestly appreciate. If the trailer or the documentary strongly fell on either side of the fence [fuck you]**, I don't think it would be as interesting to watch. By framing it in this way it allows any audience -- no matter how they feel about the subject -- to learn something the documentary.
Barber and Christopherson allow the audience to take/review the facts presented to them through the film and then make an informed decision about their opinion. I'm unsure if the documentary will change anyone's stance but I am sure it's definitely an important film.
Although, it's hard to see the positives in militarizing our police. With topics like these, I'd rather not be too personal but images like the one above don't make me feel any more secure*** about the community or myself or the country.
And maybe, that's where my curiosity/interest/intrigue come from for this documentary. I personally don't know what anyone could say that would convince me that arming the police in a way that makes them physically intimidating or more prone to commit violent acts is something that's necessary (it isn't).
Peace Officer comes out on September 16th, 2015.
*Heartbreaking because I can vividly remember silently crying while I was watching all of the updates on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. I remember all of the pain and the trauma and the bullshit arrests made on my friends. I remember not being able to get up the next day. I remember not being able to leave the bed. And I remember chain-smoking cigarettes and feeling helpless. I remember the anger, the sadness, and all the songs I wrote about how I felt. I remember it all. Vividly.
**Fuck you because there aren't any sides to this fence. Well, wait. If you really want to have sides, I'll give you two sides. There are cops on one side and dead civilians on the other. Dead brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters. There are lives being lost. And you are trying to convince me that they're only there to protect the community? Are you saying you're putting more value in glass, brick, and concrete than blood, bone, and heart? Is that what you're trying to tell me? Are we really at war at home? Who are you trying to convince that this shit is necessary? Me? Or yourself?
***I grew up in a neighborhood where I felt more afraid when a cop car would roll down the block. I was looked at in a way that made me feel like I was doing something wrong even if I was just standing outside on my skateboard talking to my friends or kicking around a soccer ball. I was constantly asked, "hey, do you live around here" in a tone that meant "if you don't live around here, you better get the fuck out of here". So, what was the question? Security? No, cops don't make me feel secure. They make me feel anything but.