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Policing the Police (2016)Policing the Police (2016)

This one-hour PBS Frontline documentary aired on June 28, 2016.  It features the New Yorker correspondent Jelani Cobb, who spent a year investigating the Newark, NJ police department — one of three dozen police departments around the country that have been investigated by the Justice Department for abusive tactics, discrimination, and violating the Constitutional rights of people.  For Cobb, the many issues surrounding police accountability serve as a gauge of broader race relations in the country.  Specifically, he wants to know what it would take for policing to experience true reform.  He goes on ride-alongs with the gang unit.  He interviews the mayor Ras Baraka, the head of the police union (a fourth generation cop), the back room communications department (a "disaster"), the police director (who was later demoted), and a local neighborhood watch group.  He acknowledges that many police departments are underfunded, overworked, and very much under fire.  The ride-alongs make you see and feel how stressful police jobs are as they seek to address gangs, guns, drugs, and violence.  At the end of the film there are no easy or obvious answers, just many complex questions.  I watched this film for free from the Frontline website.

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