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A Troubled Police Department Being Forced To Reform

FRONTLINE: Policing The Police 2020

A look at race, policing and the prospects for reform in the aftermath of George Floyd's death.

Friday 10pm FRONTLINE – Policing The Police 2020 - Investigative Series

George Floyd’s killing triggered mass demonstrations nationwide calling for racial justice and police accountability in the United States. In the wake of those protests, New Yorker writer and historian Jelani Cobb returns to a troubled police department he first visited four years ago to examine whether reform can work, and how police departments can be held accountable.

The film explores that question through the story of Newark, New Jersey, which has been undergoing an experiment in police reform for several years. In many cities across America this summer, police met both protesters and members of the media with force.

But things remained relatively calm in Newark — whose police force was ordered to reform by the Department of Justice in 2016 after a federal investigation found a pattern of civil rights abuses, the brunt of which was borne by Black and Latino residents, and whose mayor, Ras Baraka, recently diverted five percent of the public safety budget towards social programs aimed at reducing violence and addressing the root causes of crime.

Baraka has publicly opposed calls to abolish police — he wants to keep them — but has been advocating for treating violence as a public health crisis, not a problem to be solved with policing alone.