Review: ‘Flint Town’ on Netflix

 A glimpse of Flint on a cold, dreary afternoon Photo by: Zackary Canepari 

A glimpse of Flint on a cold, dreary afternoon Photo by: Zackary Canepari 

What if Gotham was a real city, only it was significantly underfunded and there was no Batman to come to its rescue? That is what is happening in Flint, Michigan right now, and they’re still relying on bottled water.

The once prosperous city now has the highest poverty rate in the country along with the fifth highest crime rate. Flint’s police department has only 98 officers to ensure the safety of 100,000 people, which makes their jobs incredibly difficult considering they had 300 officers in 2014.

“Flint Town” is a Netflix series created by Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper and Jessica Dimmock as they gain full access to the Flint police department from November 2015 to early 2017.

Robert Frost, a veteran officer for Flint PD, talked about his frustrations with policing a struggling community when his own department is underfunded.

 Officer Balasko comforts child as the guardians are escorted away Photo by: Zackary Canepari

Officer Balasko comforts child as the guardians are escorted away Photo by: Zackary Canepari

"You get one call, you handle that call. You do the best you can with that call because there's nothing you can do about the other 15 calls that are sitting there," Frost said during the show. "We're just scraping the bottom of the barrel, just trying to keep up. And there's no real policing done when you're taking that many calls. You're just driving to addresses like a UPS man."

This series takes a deeper look beyond the flashing lights and car chases seen in shows like “Cops.” Instead, the documentary shows how the Flint officers are affected by the lack of trust in their own community, due to the scarcity of funding and current stigmas in society. Footage of these overworked officers being briefed the morning after the Dallas shootings that left five police officers dead in July 2016 helps paint the picture of an on-edge police force.

Also in 2016, the documentary features the presidential election and how it created a divide in their police department, particularly with the officers of color like Scott Watson.

“It hurt me to my heart to see my white brothers on the police department vote for someone whose shown the lack of empathy for minorities, how do you justify that?” Watson said during the show.

Despite the increasing crime rate and a decrease of average income across Flint, the town is still battling to stay afloat.

“You see the ‘Flint Grit’ everywhere,” Frost said. “It really is a tough town. Tough to live in, tough to work in, but also the people in it are just tough.”

It is hard to imagine what Flint is going through until you watch it for yourself, so move this Netflix series to the top of your list. The documentary has something to learn and enjoy for everyone, as it shows even the bleakest of times can be met with glimmers of hope.