Anyone with a penchant for mistrusting police will find plenty to like in Scott Christopherson & Brad Barber’s Peace Officer. This documentary takes a sober look at the ever-increasing American police militarization and focuses on several officer-involved shootings that resulted in extreme casualties and death.
Anyone can make a movie about whether police use too much force, but Christopherson and Barber have an ace in the hole in audience surrogate William J “Dub” Lawrence, a former sheriff, lifetime law enforcement official and—on-camera, anyway—all-around nice guy. Lawrence isn’t just an expert; he’s involved in this story personally. Aside from his many years wearing a uniform, he was present when a SWAT team killed his son-in-law after a 12-hour standoff.
Peace Officer isn’t without problems—it has difficulty firmly establishing a new story thread or transitioning between story threads with clarity. But it very effectively shows the overabundance and zealousness of military-style police work and the absolutely impenetrable blue wall hard at work.
This movie comes along at just the right time, too. At a moment when violent crime in the United States is at near-record lows (despite record numbers of mass shootings), officer-involved shootings are on the rise. Whether Peace Officer will stimulate change or just scare the shit out of the populace remains to be seen.
Directed by Scott Christopherson & Brad Barber