Peace Officer depicts the increasingly tense relationship between law enforcement and the public is seen through the eyes of someone who’s been on both sides: a former sheriff who established Utah’s first SWAT team, only to see the same unit kill his son-in-law in a controversial standoff 30 years later. Now a private investigator, Dub seeks the truth in this case and other officer-involved shootings. Learn more.
Peace Officer premiere’s May 9, 2016
ABOUT THE FILM
William “Dub” Lawrence was a former sheriff who established and trained one of Utah’s first SWAT teams, only to watch in horror as that same unit killed his son-in-law in a controversial standoff years later. In Peace Officer, Dub, driven by an obsessive sense of mission, uses his investigative skills to uncover the truth about that incident and other officer-involved shootings in his community, while tackling larger questions about the changing face of police investigations nationwide.
Dub’s commitment to turn around the systemic failings he saw as a young officer led to a successful bid to become Sheriff of Davis County, Utah, in 1974. Now retired from public service, Dub spends his free time as a private investigator, especially focused on the shooting death of his son-in-law Brian Wood. His resourceful instincts soon uncover tragic mistakes made by the SWAT teams who confronted Wood, igniting a long-term obsession with bringing to light the truth behind officer-involved shootings and SWAT team raids. Many of Dub’s investigations stem from confrontations sparked by aggressive “no-knock” search warrant laws now typical across America.
The cases Dub investigates are contextualized within the growing frequency of SWAT raids and immunity laws established to prosecute the War on Drugs. Officers in cities and small towns are routinely armed with military surplus weapons and equipment, backed by federal incentives to use what they are given. These and other factors have led to a 15,000% increase in SWAT team raids in the United States since the late 1970s.
Peace Officer follows Dub as he picks apart these cases with the dogged zeal of a rule-of-law TV detective, combined with the still-lingering grief of a victim.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Scott Christopherson worked as an undergraduate for Harvard’s Ross McElwee on the film In Paraguay (2008). McAlwee then helped guide Christopherson’s first film Only the Pizza Man Knows, which was broadcast internationally on satellite cable network BYUtv. Christopherson subsequently worked as the Documentary Arts director/instructor for Spy Hop Productions and the Sundance Institute’s youth documentary workshops. Films made by his students went on to win multiple awards locally and internationally. While attending graduate school in San Francisco, Christopherson shot, directed, and edited over 20 short films for Project Runway’s season six website. He received his MFA in documentary cinema from San Francisco State University and also earned an MA degree in Anthropology from UW-Madison. He was an assistant professor of documentary film at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, prior to relocating back to Provo, where he teaches non-fiction film at Brigham Young University.
Brad Barber was named to Variety‘s “10 Documakers to Watch” list in 2015; Peace Officer is his feature directing debut. In 2009, Barber was nominated for an Emmy for his work as an editor on the HBO documentary Resolved, for which he also served as an associate producer and cinematographer, and has won multiple regional Emmys for his KBYU documentary series Beehive Stories. Barber received an MFA in Cinema-Television Production at USC, and then worked in Los Angeles as an editor, cinematographer, and director/ producer of documentary film and television with credits on Showtime, ESPN, Discovery Channel, and many others. His shorts and feature film work have been shown at film festivals and art museums around the world. Barber, who lives in Provo, Utah, currently works as an independent filmmaker and professor.
WSIU FILM SCREENINGS
WSIU has traditionally partnered with the Carbondale Public Library and SIU Carbondale to host screening throughout Southern Illinois. These screenings are free and open to the public. In addition to the Community Cinema film screening events, WSIU hosts Indie Lens Pop Up film screenings featuring documentaries from the PBS hit series Independent Lens.