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Hot Docs 2015 Review: Peace Officer

The winner of both the Grand Jury Award and the Audience Award at SXSW, Peace Officer is a film that could not be more relevant, and yet wisely keeps its perspective even-handed.

The film, co-directed by Brad Barber and Scott Christopher, begins by bringing its audience down in the dumps, (quite literally) with a tour by William “Dub” Lawrence of what happens to what we flush down the toilet. Lawrence is a sheriff turned sewage worker, and this lighthearted start to the film gives way quickly to a more serious tone that is maintained throughout the film.

Suffice it to say that Dub reveals some surprising personal revelations about the nature of acceptable police activity. This revelation colours the remainder of the film, and segues into an investigation of the level of police force necessary in, of all places, Utah, (though probing other states as well).

The film remains measured, and if anything, perhaps even too measured, to the point that it has the feeling of an important documentary, but perhaps not one with a feeling of being completely enthralling. Though it does linger in the consciousness long afterwards in how much the film does not force the issue.

At its core, Peace Officer opens the conversation about the extent of the necessity of the militarization of the police, and sadly, this conversation is still all too necessary.

[star v=4]