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South Bureau Homicide 2016

Recommended with reservations

Distributed by Tugg, Inc., 855-321-8844

Directed by Mark Earl Burman, Mike Cooley
DVD, color, 88 min.

General Adult
Crime, Criminal Justice, Homicide, Law Enforcement, Occupations, Racism, Urban Areas, Violence

Date Entered: 05/16/2017

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

From the Watts Riots of 1965, the 1992 Rodney King riots, and current Black Lives Matter protests, South Los Angeles has long had a reputation for violent crime and aggressive police action. According to the film’s producers, 40% of all homicides that occur in Los Angeles take place in this 58 square mile urban area. Many of these murders are marginally investigated and remain unsolved, leaving the families of the victims with no recourse to justice. In response to these statistics and continued unrest over the deadly use of force by police, the South Bureau has attempted to develop and work in partnership with the community to improve relationships with the residents and reduce the level and fear of crime.

The camera follows several LAPD investigators as they are called to crime scenes, meet with victims’ families, and work with neighborhood support groups. In addition to some archival television news footage, Interviews with officers, area residents, and activists draw a picture of a community under siege from within and without. The result is a film that is both occupational and promotional, describing the realities of modern policing and how the LAPD has attempted to build trust with a group that have no historical reason to do so. While there seems to be an organizational perception by police that building this relationship is necessary to reduce crime statistics and that they want this community to ‘forgive and heal,’ it’s a one-sided argument. Despite some improvements in policy-community relations, there appears to be little awareness of the role poverty, hunger, unemployment, racism, past history, and institutional apathy played to create the situation.