Review of Season One of Flint Town

Readability

Review of Season One of Flint Town

By John Ruberry

Early in Episode One of Flint Town, an eight-​entry Net­flix series that debuted this month, we dis­cover a mur­der vic­tim lying in the snow. And we see snowflakes rest­ing unmelted on his hand – the only warmth he will offer can only come from mem­o­ries from his loved ones.

Such is life and death in Flint.

Few cities of its size in the United State – prob­a­bly none – have endured as much dev­as­ta­tion as Flint has in the last thirty years. The pop­u­la­tion of Flint, which was once Michigan’s sec­ond largest city, peaked in 1960 at just under 200,000. But the wide scale exo­dus began in the 1980s when Gen­eral Motors – it was founded in Flint – began its rapid down­siz­ing of oper­a­tions in what is still called “the Vehi­cle City.”

Now fewer than 100,000 reside in Flint – with 40 per­cent of them liv­ing below the poverty line.

Flint is Detroit’s smaller cousin – shar­ing most of the same prob­lems. But Flint’s water cri­sis – lead poi­son­ing spawned by switch­ing the city’s water sup­ply from Detroit’s Lake Huron facil­i­ties to that of the Flint River – added a tragic dimen­sion to its suffering.

It used to be cars were made in Flint, and you couldn’t drink the water in Mex­ico,” Don­ald Trump remarks at a cam­paign appear­ance shown here. “Now the cars are made in Mex­ico and you can’t drink the water in Flint.”

Flint Town is a project of direc­tors Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper, and Jes­sica Dim­mock. It takes a sur­pris­ing choice of its focus, the under-​resourced Flint Police.

The police offi­cers on the Flint Police Depart­ment and under­paid and under­staffed, wear­ing five or six hats, [and] using prim­i­tive equip­ment,” Police Chief Tim­o­thy John­son tells the city coun­cil in the final episode. Ear­lier in the series the dash­board on a Flint police car shows the odome­ter at 105,000 miles. The man who sits in the cubi­cle next to mine in my real job, a retired cop from a Chicago sub­urb about the same size as Flint, says that the cruis­ers on his force were sur­plussed at about 50,000 miles.

We see Devon Bern­rit­ter, a cap­tain, lament that he was com­pelled to send three offi­cers on foot patrols because no police cars were avail­able for them. Cops are sent on calls by them­selves in Flint in many sit­u­a­tions that in other juris­dic­tions, because of per­ceived dan­ger, two offi­cers are sent.

John­son uti­lizes the same type of resource­ful­ness that Soviet cit­i­zens used when fac­ing prob­lems with inad­e­quate or miss­ing equip­ment. Vol­un­teers are hired to assist his offi­cers, although unlike every­where else these aides are armed, includ­ing a warm-​hearted 65-​year-​old retiree whose trainer bends over back­wards so he pass his marks­man­ship test. Guns seized in crimes are typ­i­cally destroyed by most police depart­ments. In Flint they are auc­tioned off.

Elec­tion Day comes to Flint Town. While not ignored, the pres­i­den­tial race – where the white cops favor Trump and the African Amer­i­can ones back Hillary Clin­ton – takes a back seat to a vote to extend a mill­age, a prop­erty tax, to pro­vide what is of course badly needed fund­ing for law enforce­ment. In the past those monies were spent, despite promises to vot­ers, elsewhere.

Flint has a well-​deserved rep­u­ta­tion for cor­rup­tion and incom­pe­tence. The lat­ter point was some­thing not even Michael Moore in his Roger and Me doc­u­men­tary could ignore. While its elec­tions are non-​partisan, Democ­rats dom­i­nate Flint politics.

I always won­dered why this city was in the posi­tion it was and now I see why, it’s at the top,” Chief John­son boldly tells the city coun­cil in a bud­get hearing.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_106038” align=“alignright” width=“225”] Blog­ger last autumn in Michigan[/caption]

Yet the rank-​and-​file Flint cops deeply care about the cit­i­zens they are sworn to serve and pro­tect, despite toil­ing in the atmos­phere of the cold-​blooding killings in 2016, assas­si­na­tions really, of police offi­cers in Dal­las and Baton Rouge. Is the love returned? For the most part, no.

Flint Town is rated TV-​MA for graphic vio­lence and foul lan­guage. While Net­flix is pro­mot­ing this batch of shows as Sea­son One, there has been no announce­ment that a sec­ond sea­son is com­ing. I’d like to see another helping.

John Ruberry reg­u­larly blogs at Marathon Pun­dit.

By John Ruberry

Early in Episode One of Flint Town, an eight-entry Netflix series that debuted this month, we discover a murder victim lying in the snow. And we see snowflakes resting unmelted on his hand–the only warmth he will offer can only come from memories from his loved ones.

Such is life and death in Flint.

Few cities of its size in the United State–probably none–have endured as much devastation as Flint has in the last thirty years. The population of  Flint, which was once Michigan’s second largest city, peaked in 1960 at just under 200,000. But the wide scale exodus began in the 1980s when General Motors–it was founded in Flint–began its rapid downsizing of operations in what is still called “the Vehicle City.”

Now fewer than 100,000 reside in Flint–with 40 percent of them living below the poverty line.

Flint is Detroit’s smaller cousin–sharing most of the same problems. But Flint’s water crisis–lead poisoning spawned by switching the city’s water supply from Detroit’s Lake Huron facilities to that of the Flint River–added a tragic dimension to its suffering.

“It used to be cars were made in Flint, and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico,” Donald Trump remarks at a campaign appearance shown here. “Now the cars are made in Mexico and you can’t drink the water in Flint.”

Flint Town is a project of directors Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper, and Jessica Dimmock. It takes a surprising choice of its focus, the under-resourced Flint Police.

“The police officers on the Flint Police Department and underpaid and understaffed, wearing five or six hats, [and] using primitive equipment,” Police Chief Timothy Johnson tells the city council in the final episode. Earlier in the series the dashboard on a Flint police car shows the odometer at 105,000 miles. The man who sits in the cubicle next to mine in my real job, a retired cop from a Chicago suburb about the same size as Flint, says that the cruisers on his force were surplussed at about 50,000 miles.

We see Devon Bernritter, a captain, lament that he was compelled to send three officers on foot patrols because no police cars were available for them. Cops are sent on calls by themselves in Flint in many situations that in other jurisdictions, because of perceived danger, two officers are sent.

Johnson utilizes the same type of resourcefulness that Soviet citizens used when facing problems with inadequate or missing equipment. Volunteers are hired to assist his officers, although unlike everywhere else these aides are armed, including a warm-hearted 65-year-old retiree whose trainer bends over backwards so he pass his marksmanship test. Guns seized in crimes are typically destroyed by most police departments. In Flint they are auctioned off.

Election Day comes to Flint Town. While not ignored, the presidential race–where the white cops favor Trump and the African American ones back Hillary Clinton–takes a back seat to a vote to extend a millage, a property tax, to provide what is of course badly needed funding for law enforcement. In the past those monies were spent, despite promises to voters, elsewhere.

Flint has a well-deserved reputation for corruption and incompetence. The latter point was something not even Michael Moore in his Roger and Me documentary could ignore. While its elections are non-partisan, Democrats dominate Flint politics.

“I always wondered why this city was in the position it was and now I see why, it’s at the top,” Chief Johnson boldly tells the city council in a budget hearing.

Blogger last autumn in Michigan

Yet the rank-and-file Flint cops deeply care about the citizens they are sworn to serve and protect, despite toiling in the atmosphere of the cold-blooding killings in 2016, assassinations really, of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Is the love returned? For the most part, no.

Flint Town is rated TV-MA for graphic violence and foul language. While Netflix is promoting this batch of shows as Season One, there has been no announcement that a second season is coming. I’d like to see another helping.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.