In the new HBO Documentary Film – ERNIE & JOE: CRISIS COPS, director Jenifer McShane dives into the lives of these incredible officers and their amazing mental health unit officers, trying and succeeding in doing good and truly making an impact. Winner of the Special Jury Award for Empathy in Craft at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival, director Jenifer McShane follows two members Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro of the San Antonio Police Department’s 10-person Mental Health Unit who are helping to change the way police respond to mental health calls. Their jail diversion work is humane and desperately needed to improve not only the health of the mentally ill, but also of their families. The duo head the special team that looks to treat mental health calls as opposed to the traditional policing tactics. Drawing on their own experiences, each have learned that the old ways of policing and dealing with mental health issues weren’t working. The issues they face as a department are the issues every community and police department in the country faces. The two officers and their colleagues in this unique department provide hope and inspiration at a time when we need it most, and show that great ideas and inspiration can come from any corner of the country. Director Jenifer McShane and film subjects Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro join us for a conversation on the trailblazing work being done by themselves and their colleagues as well as the withering and sometimes frustrating challenges that mental health, “crisis cops” deal with in the face of a national mental health epidemic.
Winner – Special Jury Prize – 2019 SXSW Film Festival
Winner – Grand Jury Prize Documentary – 2019 Independent Film Festival Boston
“No story or lecture can replace the power of witnessing this empathy in action, and Ernie & Joe is a moving, important testament to the impact that this unique approach can make on a community.”- Tori Preston, Pajiba
“Impressively intimate” – VARIETY
“One of the Best Films of SXSW 2019” – THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
“Should Change the Conversation on Modern Police Work” – GLIDE MAGAZINE
“10 out of 10 STARS” – FILM THREAT