Winner 2019

A Different Kind of Force: Policing Mental Illness

NBC News

Centered in San Antonio and Houston, this one-hour documentary brings compassion and care to the story of how local law enforcement handles people with mental illness, providing background on how the deinstitutionalization of the mental health system and lack of resources for both police and health workers created a societal problem. But its strength lies in poignant stories that bring to life the everyday challenges of police officers dedicated to serving people with mental illness and their families. The story of Christopher Remmey, a 35-year-old man living with debilitating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, is particularly heartbreaking, providing a glimpse into a world understood only by those living in it. Eloquent videography weaves interviews, police camera footage, and training sessions into a cohesive whole that touches on many issues and emotions without feeling maudlin or invasive. Viewers ride along and experience confrontations with individuals in crisis—watching the featured police officers skillfully deescalate tense situations with empathy rather than weapons, and seeing video of others who failed to engage such empathy. For tackling a key challenge facing law enforcement today, while carefully giving voice to people with mental illness and their families, and offering strategies to address the issue, A Different Kind of Force: Policing Mental Illness earns a Peabody Award.


Creators: Ed Ou, Kitra Cahana. Showrunner: Bob Bikel. Executive Producer: Catherine Kim. Researcher/Archival: Chloe Tsang. Production Assistants: Julia Lee, Emily Fleming. Directors: Ed Ou, Kitra Cahana. Writer: Jonathan Ade. Editor: Jonathan Ade. Photography: Ed Ou, Kitra Cahana. Cinematography: Ed Ou, Kitra Cahana. Sound / Music: William Ryan Fritch.