ERNIE & JOE
Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro are not your typical police officers. Dressed in polo shirts and slacks, guns out of view, the two approach each emergency call with the intent of defusing situations without force and helping those in need. They are part of the San Antonio Police Department’s Mental Health Unit, founded to confront the fact that one in four people killed by police is mentally ill. Several riveting scenes depict exactly how Ernie and Joe pull this off. Away from the job, we see how the two are not Super Men, and must face personal challenges of their own. A rare 360-degree portrait of police officers, ERNIE & JOE gives no easy answers but reveals a proven path that could lead to transformative change nationwide. –Ken Jacobson
Jenifer McShane is an independent filmmaker committed to using film to bridge understanding between divided communities. ERNIE & JOE is her third documentary feature. Her previous documentary MOTHERS OF BEDFORD reveals the impact of incarceration on jailed mothers and their children.