Scott Christopherson and Brad Barber take a national hot-button issue and give it a local, human face in a compelling documentary exploring the growing militarization of local police forces. As sheriff in the 1970s, Dub Lawrence initiated the use of SWAT teams in Davis County; then, in 2008, his own son-in-law, Brian Wood, was killed during a domestic violence-related confrontation with a SWAT team in Farmington. The bulk of the film follows Lawrence as he applies his own impressive investigative experience to proving Brian’s death was unnecessary, while also looking into other Utah cases of officer-involved shootings where hyper-aggressive procedures might have played a role. And he’s a hard protagonist to ignore—a law-enforcement man deeply disillusioned with the state of the profession he believes in. The narrative does sprawl as it brings in multiple talking heads, and plays as fair as possible with letting those law-enforcement members who opted to speak present their side of the hard job of policing. Yet it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that many deaths result from turning too many situations into shock-and-awe campaigns—and that Lawrence’s quiet, firm opposition makes him heroic.
Director: Scott Christopherson and Brad Barber
Producer: Scott Christopherson, Brad Barber and Dave Lawrence