Netflix debuted its highly anticipated 8-episode docu-series, “Flint Town” earlier this month. “Flint Town” follows police officers as they go about their jobs in a community in crises. Flint, Michigan is one of the most crime-ridden cities in the country. With a population of about 100,000, they have a police force of only 98 officers. The officers featured in series discuss the challenges of policing a community with low employment rates, low graduation rates, high crime rates and high levels of lead and other containments in the city’s water supply. It is a gritty reality type series in the vain of “COPS.”
As a Flint native, watching the docu-series was surreal. I recognized many of the streets and places, and one of the featured officers in the docuseries is very familiar as he is my brother; 21-year vet, Detective Scott Watson.
“Flint has been devastated by the loss of employment opportunities and of course poverty breeds crime. Everyone complains about the police, but no one wants to do the job we do, “says Det. Watson. “It is often difficult to fill department vacancies because young people don’t want the be associated with law enforcement and be considered a “snitch” by their friends and family. We need people of the community policing the community.”
While I haven’t lived in Flint myself in many years, and my immediate family has moved to the suburbs where crime and clean drinking water isn’t much of an issue; it is still painful to watch the people of my hometown in such dire straits.
The Flint water crisis has only worsened the situation in Flint. The citizens must deal with the health after-effects of being exposed to contaminated water including low birth weight and mental deficiencies in infants, skin rash, an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease; in addition to other unexplained and untreatable ailments.
The docuseries showed that many of the people of the city of Flint feel hopeless and abandoned by the government. The consistently short-staffed police force must respond mostly to the violent and imminent threat calls leaving Flint ripe for many criminals to run wild in the city.
The series is indeed worth watching. It gives the viewer further insight into the city that is now the subject of made-for-tv movies and nightly news reports. “The police are humans too. We want a safe city to live and raise our families just like the rest of the public. We have to get everyone invested in making Flint a much better place,” says Det. Watson.