Great documentaries tend to spur conversation. They’re controversial by nature and lead to a deeper societal discussion about one topic or another. Peace Officer is one such conversation-starter. It centers on Dub Lawrence, a former county sheriff in Utah, who founded a county S.W.A.T. team in 1975 that would wind up killing his son-in-law in 2008.
One of the hottest topics over the past few years has dealt with the police. I don’t know enough to make worthwhile points, but I do know that Peace Officer isn’t the first movie made (at least partially) in response to the topic. This summer, Straight Outta Compton shined a light on police behavior in the early 1990s while also illuminating conditions in 2015.
These films will keep being made. The discussion is ongoing, and Peace Officer contributes to it. I don’t know how fair the documentary is. It’s sort of like Serial in that way (with the second season’s topic just announced, I’ve got Serial on the brain); it highlights events that were fundamentally flawed, but doesn’t do a terrific job of displaying the opposition.
Peace Officer is not wholly one-sided, but it does seem to have an agenda. You should never take anything you see in a documentary as gospel; you should always enter a film ready to open your mind to a new perspective and combine that new information with what you know. Do that with Peace Officer, and you’ll see a film that’s worth your time.