Coming in June on FRONTLINE

June 6, 2016
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by Patrice Taddonio Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist

A still from "Policing the Police," FRONTLINE's documentary premiering June 28, 2016.

Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Walter Scott in South Carolina. Akai Gurley and Eric Garner in New York City. Tamir Rice in Cleveland.

Over the past several years, the deaths of black men and boys like these at the hands of police officers have sparked a national debate about race, policing and civil rights, with the Department of Justice stepping in to mandate reform at several troubled police forces.

For more than a year, FRONTLINE has been reporting on the effectiveness of that process. Now, in a new documentary called Policing the Police that comes to PBS on June 28, FRONTLINE takes viewers on a provocative journey inside one police department that’s being forced to change its ways — specifically, the Newark Police Department (NPD) in New Jersey.

The Justice Department’s intervention in Newark wasn’t spurred by the shooting death of an unarmed black man, but by allegations of systemic civil rights violations over the years. Newark’s police officers are responsible for keeping the peace in one of the most violent cities in America, and as historian and New Yorker contributor Jelani Cobb explores in the documentary, they’re under fire for how they’ve been doing it: The DOJ found that a full 75 percent of stops by Newark police had no justifiable basis. It also found that police used excessive force against residents, stole their belongings, and sometimes arrested people for criticizing or questioning their actions.

In FRONTLINE’s Policing the Police documentary, Cobb examines allegations of police abuses, the complex challenges of fixing a broken relationship with the community, and efforts by Mayor Ras Baraka to bring about change.

Also this month, we’ll bring you encore presentations of two acclaimed FRONTLINE documentaries: Gunned Down, an investigation of the politics and power of the NRA, and Being Mortal, which follows surgeon and writer Atul Gawande as he explores end-of-life care in America.

Here’s a closer look at our June lineup:

June 14: Gunned Down: The Power and Politics of the NRA

How did the NRA evolve from a group of gun enthusiasts and sportsmen with minimal political focus, to a powerful lobbying force opposing any perceived infringement of the constitutional right to bear arms? In Gunned Down, veteran filmmaker Michael Kirk investigates the NRA, its political evolution and influence, and how it has consistently succeeded in defeating new gun control legislation.

June 21: Being Mortal

Death is something we will all one day face. So why is it so hard for doctors to talk about dying with their patients? And how can the medical profession better help people navigate the final chapter of their lives with confidence, direction and purpose? In Being Mortal, Atul Gawande explores how patients, families and doctors all experience the end stages of life — and encourages a national conversation about how to live life to the fullest extent possible, all the way until the very end.

June 28: Policing the Police

FRONTLINE goes inside the Newark Police Department — one of many troubled forces in America ordered to reform by the Justice Department.

Check your local PBS listings for airtimes.

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