Oscar 2019: Best Documentaries–Stephen Maing’s Crime + Punsihment

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has announced its shortlist of semi-finalists in the Best Documentary Feature.

Later on, the organization’s respective branches will determine the five final nominees, which will be announced along with all other Oscar categories next month.

Nominations for the 91st annual Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, January 22, 2019.

Covering three years, 2014-2017, Stephen Maing’s documentary, aptly titled Crime + Punishment, concerns the harmful, negative, sometimes illegal methods used by the New York City Police Department (NYPD)

In theory the unit’s motto consists of such key values as Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect.  But is it also in practice?  Are there new, often unofficial mottos, such as Kill the spirit, if not the body.

Sandy Gonzales investigates the NYPD’s illegal quotas system, under which officers can be retaliated against if they don’t meet a certain number of summonses and arrests per month.

To achieve these goals, officers are often dispatched to high-crime areas, where the residents tend to be black or Hispanic. Teenagers are the primary targets, though many later see the arrests or citations dismissed in court.  But one of the system’s primary victims, Staten Island Eric Garner, died after police put him in a chokehold, not an uncommon practice.

The docu shows a racist cycle, which has prevailed through multiple administrations, regardless of whether or not the Mayor is Democrat or Republican. The film covers the first term of Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, when William Bratton became police commissioner.

It is common knowledge that unlawful methods generate revenue for the city.

Crime + Punishment details the rise of the NYPD12, men and women, who have refused to follow the departmental status quo and are willing to go public, even if it takes a class action lawsuit.

Maing has gained access to the group, and he describes the consequences of the above group fight against corruption and stand up against official power.

African-American Officer Edwin Raymond, whose name is on the lawsuit, scored on the Sergeant’s Exam, but is denied promotion due to his stubborn refusal to meet quotas; physical appearance, such as his dreadlocked hair, might have counted too.

Officer Felicia Whitely expresses anger at her department’s efforts to punish her, go into early labor with her child, though supervisors insist she’s making up her symptoms.

Bratton denies any wrongdoing, singling out the NYPD’s fair treatment of offenders through what is termed “broken windows” policing, focusing on minor crimes to prevent major ones later.

Documentary Feature

“Charm City”
“Crime + Punishment”
“Dark Money”
“The Distant Barking of Dogs”
“Free Solo”
“Hale County This Morning, This Evening”
“Minding the Gap”
“Of Fathers and Sons”
“On Her Shoulders”
“The Silence of Others”
“Three Identical Strangers”
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”