SXSW Film Review: Peace Officer

Doc about police militarization is based in personal tragedy

The documentary Peace Officer has an agenda. It meticulously demonstrates the militarization of police that has increased over the last 40 years. If it was only that, it would be nothing more than an effective piece of propaganda. But then there’s Dub.

William “Dub” Lawrence is the centerpiece of this tale, and it’s hard to imagine a better one. His smile is infectious, and his knowledge of the subject matter is vast. More than anything, though, it’s his story that shines through.

In 2008, Dub witnessed a tragedy: His son-in-law was involved in an armed standoff with police that resulted in his death. The kicker here is that Dub is a former sheriff who founded his county’s first SWAT unit in 1975. That same group had now killed one of his family members.

Peace Officer details not only that case but others in Dub’s home state of Utah. Fortunately, Dub just happens to be an expert on re-creating crime scenes, and the walk-throughs of these events are fascinating.

Several national experts are brought in as well to connect the dots from race riots to the war on drugs to SWAT teams serving warrants, and the end result is clear. Peace Officer makes a convincing case for a radical re-examination of the way force is used by police, and does so in a remarkable and compelling fashion.


Peace Officer

Documentary Competition
Friday, March 20, 1:15pm, Topfer


Keep up with all our SXSW Film coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw/film.

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw.

READ MORE
More SXSW Film
Unleashing the <i>Hounds of Love</i>
Unleashing the Hounds of Love
Director Ben Young on his serial-killer couple drama

Richard Whittaker, May 12, 2017

Ben Wheatley  Catches <i>Free Fire</i>
Ben Wheatley Catches Free Fire
Director on making his U.S. action debut

Richard Whittaker, April 21, 2017

More by Rod Machen
The Present in the Past Tense
The Present in the Past Tense
Chuck Klosterman talks about what now will look like later

June 27, 2016

Elementary, My Dear Hickey
Hickey on Ruscha
Art critic Dave Hickey on being Watson to Ed Ruscha's Holmes

Jan. 19, 2016

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

SXSW Film, SXSW Film 2015, Peace Officer, William “Dub” Lawrence, SWAT

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)