In the trailer for “Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops,” a voiceover states: “On average in a police academy in this country, they spend 60 hours or more learning how to shoot a gun, and they spend eight on mental health and communication. We need to shift that.”
Directed by Jenifer McShane, the HBO documentary gives a different perspective on law enforcement in a time when law enforcement is being scrutinized for unwarranted police violence.
The film, which won the Special Jury Prize for Empathy in Craft at SXSW earlier this year, follows the titular Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro, two police officers in San Antonio, Texas who are diverting people from jail and into mental health treatment.
The duo, part of the San Antonio Police Department’s ten-person mental health unit, puts compassionate policing practices into action.
The film chronicles Ernie and Joe’s daily encounters with people in crisis, showing how their innovative approach to policing – which takes mental health into account – is having a dramatic effect on the way police respond to these challenges.
“Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops” premieres November 19 on HBO.
Read the story at Deadline.
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