Flint Police: Lotsa Grit!



In about an 8-hour period of time you can quickly get up to date on the current and potential problems facing our nation’s police. Sure, Flint may be a bad example, but the Netflix series, “Flint Town,” has captured issues of race, use of force, politics, public funding, officer stress, balancing family and work, and a brutal lack of resources.

This is a “must-see” for those who are committing to improving police and bridging the trust-gap between police and communities of color. The only documentary that comes close to capturing the police culture is Frederick Wiseman’s work, “Law and Order” (1969) which took place in Kansas City.

If you are teaching police and those who “wanna be,” I suggest you use this film series with plenty of discussion about the subculture, police tactics, and urban politics.

This following was the clip that grabbed me most: it includes a discussion during shift briefing about the recent shooting of Philando Castile in a St. Paul suburb.

Inside a Broken Police Department

Charlie LeDuf, February 25, 2018

“In one of the nation’s poorest and most violent cities, law enforcement is, according to one officer, ‘scraping the bottom of the barrel, just trying to keep up.’” 

“The street lights are out. The porch lights are off. The empty houses and vacant lots are illuminated by headlamps and siren strobes and police-cruiser searchlights, flashes of color amid myriad shades of gray. The murder victims are both black and white, as are the perps, in handcuffs, and the cops, in blue. For all of them, living in Flint, Michigan, is a story of the struggle to survive…

“In November of 2015, Flint elected a new mayor, Karen Weaver, who in turn hired a new chief of police, Tim (Two Guns) Johnson. A hard-charger who preached zero tolerance (cracking down on minor offenses) and proactive policing (deterring crime before it happens), Johnson faced an already catastrophic erosion of trust between Flint’s residents and its law enforcement. As Brian Willingham, a local black police officer who is featured in the Netflix series, wrote in a Times Op-Ed, in 2016, ‘How can citizens in Flint trust the police to protect them when they can’t even trust their government to provide them with clean water?’…

“Sergeant Robert Frost, works the lobster shift. He, like many Flint police officers, has been laid off and called back to work three times over the past dozen years, because Flint is too poor to pay him. ‘We’ve got, like, eight people working at any given time for a hundred thousand people, and there’s no way to be proactive,’ he told me. ‘You get one call, you handle that call, you do the best you can, because there is nothing you can do about the other fifty calls that are sitting there.’ He added, ‘We’re just scraping the bottom of the barrel, just trying to keep up.’

“For residents, a bare-bones police department just feels like more abandonment. In a clip from the Netflix series, a black woman is seen calling the police to report that men have been shooting at kids on her block. She called an hour before but no officers had come. On the other end of the line, the dispatcher tells her that it’s the third shooting of the day. The police are on their way, but they’re a little backed up.

“They want shit like this to happen in Flint—they want all of us to kill each other so there won’t be no more shit they have to come to,” the woman says after she hangs up. ‘That’s why all of our young black boys keep getting killed.’”

  • Read the full article HERE.






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