Opinion: Flint PD owes residents an apology for abusive behavior displayed in documentary

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(This commentary was written by a Flint resident who wished to remain anonymous after reviewing his story. His identify has been verfied by Flint Beat staff.)

The City of Flint police department has run amok. I never thought I would write that about the city’s understaffed, 100-officer police outfit, but Netflix’s new tell-all documentary “Flint Town” exposes to the masses the hyper-aggressive nature of policing prevalent in the City of Flint, and does little to distinguish the department from national concerns that Black Lives Matter activists have been demonstrating about in this country.

Directors Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper and Jessica Dimmock walk the thin line of trying to create an entertaining documentary without seeming partisan. Rarely, if ever, do the directors address the systematic disenfranchisement of residents of the city, nor do they offer more than fleeting images of the lived experience of poverty. They do, however, clearly broadcast the narrative of policing being “dangerous” despite 40 years of data and a civilian and police death rate that is nearly identical, that prove the contrary (see: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/blake-fleetwood/how-dangerous-is-police-w_b_6373798.html). Despite this, Flint Town is not exactly “copaganda” nor is it a clear endorsement of Black Lives Matter.

In fact, at its best, Flint Town captures the nuanced perspectives that police officers (particularly black police officers) have about the profession. I enjoyed hearing Ofc. Watson of the C.A.T.T (Crime Area Target Team) task force talk about his skepticism of the “tough on crime” policies of Chief Johnson, who by comparison seems to be stuck on old “broken windows” zero tolerance policing tactics, even when his colleagues scramble for new answers, even when the change in crime he trumpets is neither statistically significant nor outside of the normal trends of the city.

(Netflix)

At its worst, Flint Town is a profanity-laced Trump endorsement where white police officers, most of whom do not reside in the city, play Robocop. Officer Frost is among the most egregious; rarely does he break free of the hyper-masculine, overaggressive, and self-centered officer archetype that has come to define the cultural atmosphere of police departments across the country. His segments (with few exception) are all about him, and his ignorance surrounding the statistical connections of crime and poverty make him (and others) incredibly dangerous officers to have on the streets of this city.

Data on poverty and crime can be found by clicking here.

Flint Town shows us exactly what the city no longer needs: punitive policing that fails to address the systemic, socioeconomic causes of crime. Rather, this city must deal with its poverty. In doing so, we must remember that the least fortunate of us deserve dignity, respect, freedom of expression and due process, especially as it pertains to policing. This has not been the case under Chief Johnson. His reckless management of the Flint Police Department demonstrates that he is unfit for the job, and the documentary Flint Town is the receipt of that.

26 Comments
  1. Joel says

    You snowflake….

  2. Leon says

    When are you singing up for the job? That’s what I thought…….Nothing but opinion

  3. Ryan says

    It is not the job, nor can it be the job of law enforcement officers to “address the systematic, socioeconomic causes of crime”. Their sole responsibility is, you guessed it; enforcing the law. That’s it. If citizens are following the law, then there’s no trouble. If citizens are breaking the law, then it is THE JOB of law enforcement to take the appropriate actions granted to them by the law itself. If the police had the means to single-handedly fix the centuries-long problems within society, then that would be different. But they don’t, and we need to respect them for the work that they do.

    Until you can honestly say to yourself that if you were being robbed at gunpoint, and when the police show up to help you, you’d tell them to go away and fight the larger systematic, socioeconomic reasons for WHY that person is robbing you at gun-point, then you have no grounds for what you are saying.

    1. Regular Joe says

      Outstanding reply.

    2. Anna W says

      I agree, good reply!

    3. Jonathan says

      You must be a cop or related to one and anyone else strongly commenting in there favor or turning a blind eye to blatant misbehavior by police. These cops talk about the lack of trust and the growing divide with the public when they treat anybody they come in contact (with the exception of a few) with like total shit. There are several instances where the Doc makers intentionally left little parts in, like the guy just sitting on the bench maybe napping who knows but hurting no one, cop yells at him and throws all there furniture away. ” I can’t understand why these people don’t trust us” Many other examples I won’t mention. But this bang heads shit is proven not to work and breeds disdain among the people.

      1. Schepers says

        Ashley

  4. L says

    Shut it. I’m from Flint and I saw the police in the movie as trying to take care of a struggling town while having their arms tied behind their back from the uppers who live in safety at their desks all day. The police have been crapped on by the system just like the people have. Their options are 1) becoming numb, 2) becoming tough or 3) falling apart.

  5. Blair Woods says

    Officer Robert Frost makes me cringe. He also gave his one sided story of him murdering an unarmed black man. I hope he is no longer working for the police department. His mission is not to protect anyone.

    1. Sarah says

      You’re an idiot. That’s all I can say.. you are literally brainwashed by the media.

  6. Dannah says

    Here is some profanity… what the fuck? Obviously things have changed… meaning the days of kids playing in the yard, leaving doors unlocked, and oh yea not getting your shit jacked while your at the store are over!!! So guess what, that means tactics have to change. Liiiikkkkkkeee…. being a little harsh ya know when arresting someone who has just tried to kill you by unloading a weapon in your direction or dealing with dead bodies that just appear. Those are police issues. The “systemic, socioeconomic reason,” for crime is NOT the duty of the department…. unfortunately, that is the powers that BE… oh yea and that’s a grey area in the constitution in regards to welfare states. Essentially it’s up to the “People” to pull their boot straps up. So .. “what have you done lately?”

  7. AB says

    Seriously? Have you ever worked as a police officer anywhere? There are other places that your Anti Trump agenda will be better received. The people of Flint PD are doing what you are afraid to do.

  8. Al says

    Are you serious with this? These people are giving up everything to cover your ass for basically nothing and you shit on them. Dude, have you ever listened to Public Enemy Harder than you Think? The line “Fuck the police but who’s stopping you from killing me” couldn’t be more relevant to Flint. And these officers are doing it for 12 dollars an hour. They could make more at Home Depot.

    1. Justin Thomas says

      Home Depot is hiring tell your police friends to go apply! We don’t need anymore half ass BIG mouth wannabe hero’s to police this city! We all go without or have less then we’d like to do our job or even better ourselves, so please someone info the Flint city police of this as their crying on camera is a joke and a clear sign of weakness and lack of moral. Oh and please SOMEONE SLAP THE SHIT OUT OF THAT BIG SLOPPY LIP BIG MOUTH BLONDE CUNT OF THE CATT SQUAD TO STFU NO ONE IS SCARED OF YOUR DORT HEWY BACKPAGE LOOKING ASS!

      1. Sarah says

        You are ignorant and a low-life.. that is evident in your lack of ability to type. If you aren’t happy with it.. move. Or get your ass a second job, you welfare piece of shit.

        1. Sarah says

          I am speaking to Justin being the ignorant one.. in case his peabrain missed that.

  9. JP says

    Hyper-masculine? If you needed the police to respond with force to save your life, would you prefer that officer to be HYPO-masculine? You’re a fool who has clearly never been in a violent situation. Shut up and go back to your safe space you weak little rodent.

  10. Sarah says

    This is the dumbest thing I ever read.. you’re more racist, and you are stereotyping a group of people. You want to sit there and say black lives matter, ALL lives matter.. black, white, man or woman, animals, and your dumbass. How about instead of preaching your racism to let all social media believe that black people are victims. Why don’t you research how many white people are killed by officers.. it’s far more than blacks. You just don’t see it on the news because black people use the instances of their “innocent” black person who wasn’t armed (sarcasm) being gunned down by police. You are by far more ignorant than you claim these police and other people who aren’t black to be.

  11. Flinty Flinterson says

    You can tell from the calibre of replies just what kind of mindset the author is highlighting. Watching the documentary series as someone based in the UK, I found the hyper-aggressive manner in which police officers dealt with the public totally abhorrent. There is no medium- or long-term ambition with law enforcement in Flint – just short term, over the top, macho shock-and-awe tactics to strike fear into the hearts of residents. Totally and transparently destined to failure. It is undeniably part of the role of law enforcement to take into account and mitigate socioeconomic factors at play.

    1. NotHere says

      You are clearly from the UK and have no perspective on the cultural differences between inner city black America and where you live. The police conduct on this program is appropriate for the environment . Shame on you for the vitriol expressed in your ignorant opinion.

  12. Gfish says

    It’s no wonder this commentary was written by a Flint resident who wished to remain anonymous …

  13. Luke says

    Completely agree with this opinion piece.

  14. Kel says

    Frost who is not from Flint, stated that he wanted to be an officer in Flint, “because that’s where the action is”! Only a completely uncaring moron would not find that statement from a sworn officer, both offensive and troubling. Stop with all that talk about him doing a job to protect residents, and help people. He plainly said why he does the job, for the thrill! All throughout the series he talks about how in danger he is, and how ‘I could get my head blown off at any moment”. Really Officer Frost? I would love for one you people saluting this cowboy to tell me the last time a FPD Officer was shot in the line of duty? Or how many officers have been shot and killed in the history of the FPD. Maybe if you know the facts, you can tone down some of that fear, and start to police the community as a part of the community, and not an overly aggressive adversary of the community!

    Thanks for writing this article. we need more voices that speak from places of reason, and not just followers who accept dogmatic narratives blindly.

    Police are not above reproach. If they take that oath to be an officer, they will and must be held to a higher standard. Otherwise, don’t take the job. Especially in my city!

    P.S. The last time an FPD officer was shot and killed in the line of duty, was 1969! 4 officers have been killed by gunfire in the 100+ year history of the FPD.

    https://www.odmp.org/agency/1267-flint-police-department-michigan

  15. Cody says

    The police on this show are doing exactly what black lives matter has been protesting about. The police in this show make groups of officers to roam neighborhoods like a gang and harass black people. The amount of racism in this show is disgusting, with the social and economic difficulties that flint has the police should be fixing them not hunting down black people.

  16. Cody says

    The truth. The police on this show are doing exactly what black lives matter has been protesting about. The police in this show make groups of officers to roam neighborhoods like a gang and harass black people. The amount of racism in this show is disgusting, with the social and economic difficulties that flint has the police should be fixing them not hunting down black people.

  17. Stacey says

    Unless you live in Flint and see what some of these trashy low life’s do on a daily basis, you would change your tune. And it’s not just black people, it’s a huge diverse mix. The white cracks and hookers across from me, the old black men behind me that deal drugs and abuse animals, the mix of race who squat in the vacant home next to me, and the board of mix children down the street whose mothers don’t give a shit what they are doing, teaching them to be broke and trash, graffiting homes and littering in the street and other people’s yards, playing dodge with traffic. It’s NOT just a police or government or water or economy or job problem. The problem is with the people. No respect for community, no want to better themselves. It’s disgusting. But unless you live it, fuck your opinion on any of it based off a tv show. Come live here, I’ve got a room for ya!

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