By Mark Mathis
Just finished Netflix's new documentary series "Flint Town". I watched the eight episodes in under three weeks, which is as close to binge watching as I ever get. The fairest and most honest series about urban policing I've ever seen.
If you haven't watched it yet, and can stand the F word used in real life, I'd put it on my watch list right away.
Brilliant crafting of the story line. Policing, race, Flint Water crises, poverty, politics are all handled very fairly. Along the way you get to really know several of Flint's very fine officers and citizens.
I was really sad to see the end of that 8th episode. It's so much more than a series about the Flint PD.
A couple takeaways after watching the series:
1. God help Flint. 100 cops and 100,000 citizens. A 27 hour wait to get a cop to respond to an armed robbery with injuries requiring hospitalization? Call waiting backups of 50-70 calls on a random night? If you wonder if there is a limit to cutting police resources this certainly answers the question.
2. Police work must be proactive, and not reactive. One 8 person proactive team in Flint caused a 40% reduction in violent crime in a matter of months. They had the full support of the Chief and Mayor. They had clear direction to go out and kick butt. It works. An unsupported department will operate in reactive mode, crime will rise, and citizens will suffer.
3. This is a great and honest look at the real street warriors that form the thin blue line between order and chaos. When you put a face on those that fill this gap it's near impossible to not support the mission.
4. Flint passed a police millage. The city basically stole it to fund other projects. That has also happened in Grand Rapids. GR residents STILL pay a millage that supposedly put a cop in every neighborhood, and increased staffing to 400 officers. The city has found other pet projects to shift money around to, and cut GRPD staffing by over 100 officers. Too often in urban areas, millages are sold on the backs of public safety, and then stolen by politicians.
5. Hats off to Flint Chief Timothy Johnston. He goes to the mat for his officers. He is truthful. He cares. He understands the need for proactive enforcement and hitting the criminal element with everything you have. No officer could ask for anything more. Unfortunately, he is a very rare Chief these days.
6. Flint PD is the canary in the coal mine. I wish that others (including Grand Rapids City Leadership) would take some very needed notes.
The Netflix trailer for the series can be found here:
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