Peace Officer doccie explores the USA’s increasingly militarised police force
This critically acclaimed documentary won both the Grand Jury and Audience awards at SXSW, and is now streaming first and only on Showmax in Africa.
The feature documentary is the story of William “Dub” Lawrence, a former sheriff who established and trained Utah’s first SWAT team only to see that same unit kill his son-in-law in a controversial standoff 30 years later.
Combining the zeal of a rule-of-law detective with the grief of a victim, Dub obsessively uses his own investigative skills to uncover the truth in this and other recent officer-involved shootings in his community.
As The Boston Globe wrote, “His investigation surpasses the best episode of the now defunct CSI series in its suspense and fascinating procedural detail and rivals the intensity, ingenuity, and broader ramifications of Errol Morris’s The Thin Blue Line.”
The documentary questions the increasingly militarised state of police in America, where it claims the use of SWAT team raids have increased 15 000% since the 1970s. This increase is attributed in part to the widespread use of no-knock search warrant laws, where in many states SWAT teams can break into US citizens’ homes without warning, often in the middle of the night, and may take any action of surprised self-defence as an excuse to open fire. In some cases, they even break into the wrong houses…
Lawrence was named one of the Unforgettables at Cinema Eye Honors Awards, while Peace Officer also won the Human Rights Award at Full Frame, among other international accolades.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the documentary has a rare 100% critics’ rating, with The Hollywood Reporter calling it “A powerful and important film about policing tactics that have crept into everyday use with little scrutiny” and Variety praised it for being “hard-hitting… as engrossing and well crafted as it is timely.”