Peace Officer is a documentary about the increasingly militarized state of American police as told through the story of Dub Lawrence, a former sheriff who established his rural state's first SWAT team only to see that same unit kill his son-in-law in a controversial standoff 30 years later. Driven by an obsessed sense of mission, Dub uses his own investigation skills to uncover the truth in this and other recent officer-involved shootings in his community, while tackling larger questions about the changing face of peace officers nationwide.
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★★★★★ review by Miles on Letterboxd
Terrific doc. Peace Officer doesn't pretend to be a comprehensive look at the subject of police militarization in America, but rather focuses on the human impact of the issue in a particular community in Utah and lets the audience draw their own conclusions about the bigger picture with the help of a few gentle historical asides from a journalist familiar with the issue. Our protagonist Dub was absolutely charming, and his borderline-obsessive focus, which might come across as paranoid under other circumstances, was completely understandable given the deep impact this issue has had on his life.
I also appreciated that the film, for the most part, refrains from villainizing the police, which would have stolen some of its credibility in my eyes. The scene where opposing protesters confront each other in a quiet neighborhood powerfully illustrates this issue's profound effect on regular Americans. While I was generally familiar with the concerns about police militarization in the aftermath of recent events in Ferguson, Peace Officer clearly illustrates the dynamics of SWAT activities in a way that shows how dangerous over-militarization can be for both police and the communities they are intended to serve.
★★★★ review by AustinHiggins on Letterboxd
The perfect formula for a successful documentary: a captivating lead character and a lesser known but urgent subject matter. This film taught me so much and had my jaw on the floor throughout. A few teary moments as well. All in all, this will be an essential Netflix doc.
★★★½ review by Steven on Letterboxd
"When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail."
I hate to use this term (as it tends to turn off my own desire to see a film), but Peace Officer (a title that anticipates the tragic irony therein) is one of the most important documentaries of the year, using individual narratives and a reliable central character to expose the breadth of the problems with the current state of policing in the U.S. and going beyond the media's current fixation on race. All too often, I find those "important" docs to be little more than exercises in preaching to the converted. (e.g., Was anyone who was actually skeptical of Edward Snowden's veracity and motives any less skeptical after viewing the overwrought, sycophantic Citizenfour?) However, I was genuinely shocked during certain segments of Peace Officer - not just by the accounts of the victims of an increasingly para-militarized police force, but by the inexplicable unaccountability and the chilling, and often delusional, rebuttals offered by law enforcement and their own families.
★★★★½ review by Michael Gannaway / Hucksta G on Letterboxd
A powerful film that I hope will help cause some change. Man it's been a great year for docos and this is one of the best.
★★★★½ review by AngelaMurphy on Letterboxd
Be afraid. A must see film.
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