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.

 


 

PEACE OFFICER

Directed by Scott Christopherson & Brad Barber

CCA Cinematheque

R
109 min.