I’m slowing making my way down “to watch” pile and I’m actually quite happy about it.
It has been a slow process because I also like sharing with you the films I find while out media hunting.
Our friends at Mill Creek Entertainment have been on a serious roll lately,not only have released some seriously funny shows like “Community” and “Happy Endings” but the documentaries releases have also been outstanding,we ourselves have watched and reviewed two stunning IMAX releases and a wonderful look at an forgotten American hero in Robert Hartsock.
So getting a docuseries that was made for Mill Creek proper is a exciting step to see.
I did find it interesting to see this series was built around looking at the lives of five cops in the Los Angeles area. Given that the public mistrusts the police and the justice system in general,the fact that creators Bill Brennenstuhl and Paul Stenerson decided to make their first documentary about police officers is a interesting choice. Did it work out for them and for the officers they selected to interview?
The cheetah and I got our snacks together and settled back to watch “Heroes In Blue”.
From Mill Creek:
“This five-part docu-series will examine how police departments not only protect the public but also reach out in the most surprising ways. From stories of heroism to the outreach programs that make up the PAL system, to the awards and certificates bestowed upon the diverse infrastructure that makes up our ever-changing police force, the viewer will get a deeper understanding about the “Heroes in Blue.“
As noted,”Heroes In Blue” is a five part series with five officers interviewed,four street cops and one dispatcher.
The dispatcher,Linette McCain,who works for the city of Westminister,is the only officer still on active duty and the series kicks off with her story. She shares how she got started with the department and how much she loves her job despite the stress that comes with it.
The segment has a couple of re-enactments of her most critical calls while she walks us through the cases and we are shown the outcome of those cases. Its clear she takes a lot of pride in her work and even coming to 30 years on the job,she isn’t jaded and she has passion for her work.
The other segments feature four retired officers,three from the Los Angeles Police Department and one from the Downey Police Department. This is where the series starts to get deep because despite every officer serving for more then 20 years each,their views on their job and how they look at the public is very revealing of their character. 3 of the 4 officers interviewed were rather open minded about society and that surprised me because the cop from Downey really comes across as a prick. Mike Pope was born and raised in Downey and became a cop on his 21st birthday. His den,where his interview was filmed is chocked full of rah-rah trophies and American flags,the normal right wing white cop stuff you expect to see and he loved the fact he was so well known in his city.
But he shows that maybe there is more to him when he reveals that in 29 years of duty,he has never shot anyone and that was really surprising given his cocky attitude.
The first cop from the Los Angeles Police Department is Andre Risse and he is a perfect reason why the public is losing trust,he openly sayd he looks for signs that fit a profile,certain body language and the like. Listen,I’m sure there are signs of when a person is under the influence and I get that but people sweating or nervous or twitchy is often that,nerves. We as a society have been conditioned to fear the police,even when one hasn’t done anything wrong. There isn’t a single adult who doesn’t get higher blood pressure when a cruiser slides behind you and hits the lights. Doesn’t mean a officer should instantly assume the very worst like Risse does.
His reaction to the Rodney King verdict and the Los Angeles riots is also very telling as he felt the officers did nothing wrong. Risse admits he was a changed person two months out of the academy and maybe having over 20 surgeries for on the job injuries might have added to his bitterness but I’m glad he is retired. You have to respect Brennenstuhl and Stenerson credit for not editing their interviews,its easy to make anyone look good,it takes courage to let people speak their truths.
Greg Wells was 29 year veteran of the LAPD and definitely is the finest speaker in the series. He is very smooth and quite polished inhis interview and that is the problem,he wasn’t given any real direction and instead of focusing on the job and how he performed it,he was allowed to just talk and while he sounds great,he really didn’t share a lot of his own personal experiences.
By far the best interview was with 32 years,5 months and 13 days retired veteran Hector Ibarra. Ibarra is an amazing human being and he was/is one hell of a cop.
He was very candid of how he felt about the department,acknowledged the many short comings in training and how the badly the Rodney King case was handled. He comments on how completely unprepared the LAPD was for the verdict and riots. He is the only one who is shown to give back to the community as he coached boxing at his local PAL gym.
A few folks are also interviewed about Hector and they have nothing but respect for him and its from the heart. Ibarra is now coaching internationally and while he is older,he still looks like he could still walk a beat and know everything that was going on that beat. This was the best interview and Ibarra is everything a police officer should be.
I enjoyed watching “Heroes In Blue” and thought it was very well made with a lot of thought and effort put into it. It showed five cops,warts and all and how they approached and reflected on a very tough job. I like that it wasn’t a fluff propaganda piece and didn’t shy away from asking good questions.
“Heroes” has 5 episodes and the total run time is 4 hours and 20 minutes. This should be considered a PG-13 rating due to some slighty salty language. It has no special features.