Jenifer McShane’s documentary Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops follows San Antonio, Texas police officers Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro, who are diverting people from jail and into mental health treatment. The SXSW Special Jury Prize Winner makes its national TV debut on HBO Nov. 19.
Part of the San Antonio Police Department’s ten-person mental health unit, Stevens and Smarro are putting compassionate policing practices into action. Ernie & Joe chronicles their daily encounters with people in crisis, showing how their innovative approach to policing – which takes mental health into account – is having a dramatic effect on the way police respond to these challenges.
The film is McShane’s third feature documentary (SXSW 2019). She spent years visiting the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility to make her last documentary, Mothers of Bedford (Hot Docs Film Festival, 2011), which reveals the impact of incarceration on incarcerated mothers and their children. Winner of the 2013 Director’s Award at the Social Justice Film Festival, selected by the U.S. Department’s American Film Showcase to tour internationally, it was broadcast on PBS stations nationwide as part of the America ReFramed documentary series. Jenifer’s first film, A Leap of Faith (Sundance Film Festival, 1996), which follows a group of parents in Belfast, Northern Ireland as they open an integrated school for Catholic and Protestant children was broadcast on PBS, and screened broadly on European television.
HBO Documentary Films presents Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops was directed and produced by Jenifer McShane; executive produced by Andrea Meditch; cinematographer, E.J. Enriquez; editor, Toby Shimin.
Here’s a list of prizes the film has won: