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Flint Town

Recently I binge-watched yet another Netflix series (go easy on me, I`only do this twice a year) about cops, crime and all things related. Still scratching my head after the whole “Making a Murderer” podcast fiasco, I didn’t know what to expect. But this is a series that has shone a light on America, all its problems and the resilience of its people.

Flint is a city in Michigan, just north of Detroit. Relatively small by American standards, its population is just over 100,000 and consistently in the top ten most violent cities in the US. This documentary follows the members of the Flint Police Department; an understaffed, underpaid and under-resourced crew of police men and women. There’s only about 100 of them, down from over 300 in the years prior. Putting that into perspective, the last Command I worked in had more officers for a population one-fifth the size.

And there was a whole lot less crime than in Flint.

The cops in Flint come onto shift with between 40 and 50 outstanding jobs to do, from domestics, stealings, even shootings. In one of the most violent cities in America, these poor buggars get it all.

And then there’s the water.

In 2014 the city changed its water supply and (to cut a very long story short) poisoned thousands of residents with lead. Still today they have to drink from bottled water. A federal state of emergency was declared by President Obama in 2016 and several people have been indicted criminally. How it ever was allowed to happen will have you shaking your head in disbelief. But it was the catalyst for a downwards spiral for this city, in every area. As expected, the police department bears the brunt of it.

What I loved about this documentary was the raw emotion of the people involved. In a time when police shootings are in issue, Black Lives Matter, where cops themselves are being targeted and the divide between law and order seems to be stretched to it’s limit, these wallopers have somehow held it together against all odds. But, as you’ll see, it’s taken a toll and no doubt will into the future.

Don’t get me wrong, cops that do the wrong thing should be called out, but watching this documentary sheds a different light on how hard it can be to do “the job.” You can see some of these police pushing off on the slippery slope of PTSD and burnout. But it goes back to the very issue about cops and what (the vast majority of them) join for; to make a difference in their communities.

Take a look at this community, Flint, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

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