[11/05/19 - 08:05 AM]
"Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops," A Riveting Look at Innovative Police Responses to Mental Health Crises Debuts November 19, Exclusively on HBO
In San Antonio, Texas, a small team of police officers are responding to individuals going through mental health crises in an innovative way and putting compassionate policing practices into action with dramatically positive results.

[via press release from HBO]

ERNIE & JOE: CRISIS COPS, a Riveting Look at Innovative Police Responses to Mental Health Crises Debuts November 19, Exclusively on HBO

In San Antonio, Texas, a small team of police officers are responding to individuals going through mental health crises in an innovative way and putting compassionate policing practices into action with dramatically positive results. ERNIE AND JOE: CRISIS COPS follows Texas police officers Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro, who are part of the San Antonio Police Department's thirteen member Mental Health Unit. Chronicling their daily and sometimes harrowing encounters with people in crisis, the documentary shows how their innovative approach to policing, which takes mental health into account, can help diffuse dangerous, potentially deadly situations and lead people to critical mental health services instead of jail - one 911 call at a time.

Directed by Jenifer McShane ("Mothers of Bedford") and debuting TUESDAY, NOV. 19 (9:00-10:40 p.m. ET/PT), the film offers a verité portrait of the two partners and friends who share a unique bond and offers viewers an intimate glimpse into their personal lives.

The documentary will also be available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and partners' streaming platforms.

At a time when one in five Americans has a mental health diagnosis and police are often the first responders to individuals in crisis, ERNIE & JOE: CRISIS COPS shows how techniques like active listening, building rapport and using non-threatening body language are having dramatic effects on the way police respond to these challenges. During one of his first crisis intervention trainings, Officer Ernie Stevens was inspired to help establish the Mental Health Unit (MHU) after he recalled hearing from a mother who was afraid that one day an officer might have to shoot or kill her son with a mental illness. Hoping to prevent people with mental illness from being criminalized, the San Antonio Police Department started their mental health unit as a six-month pilot project and soon expanded from two to four officers, including Ernie's partner, Officer Joe Smarro.

Ten years older than Joe, Ernie initially thought Joe was an arrogant kid when he first joined the MHU, but now says, "I hit the lottery," having Joe as his partner. Ernie took Joe under his wing, and in turn became inspired by Joe to go back to college after 17 years to finish his BA. A combat veteran, Joe talks openly about his own struggles with depression and PTSD from his service in Iraq, which he manages through therapy and painting. They often divide who takes the lead on a call, with Joe handling situations involving veterans because he "speaks their language" as a former Marine, and Ernie handling calls involving kids because those are more difficult for Joe.

In addition to their MHU detail, Joe and Ernie do overtime shifts together, in which they catch up and decompress between calls with humor and small talk. On one nightshift, their usual banter is interrupted when a call comes in about a woman threatening to jump from a highway overpass. In dashcam footage, Ernie and Joe carefully approach and try to calm the distraught woman who says she's a drug addict and is hearing voices. She tells the officers, "I'm broken!" "You might be broken," says Ernie, "but you're fixable." Later, Joe and Ernie respond to a call involving a suicidal man in a parking lot who says he has a gun. Trying to connect with the young man, Joe shares his own history of childhood abuse and suicidal thoughts. Eventually removing the man's gun and bringing him to an emergency treatment center, Joe says he realizes these are the first, crucial steps but wishes they could do more.

With the MHU starting to draw first responders from outside of Texas, all officers including police academy cadets in San Antonio are now required to take 40 hours of crisis intervention training. In trainings, student officers and volunteers role-play mental health crises, teaching important techniques in answering mental health calls. In one such training, Joe tells the story of trying to de-escalate a situation involving a suicidal woman in her driveway with a gun. The police had sent multiple heavily armed officers in traditional squad cars. But Joe was able to reach the woman on her cellphone and talk her into releasing the weapon, avoiding a dangerous escalation. As he recalls, "I didn't think about 'gun'... I thought about 'person in crisis'."

Regular follow-ups with the people they help are also a part of the MHU's approach. Ernie and Joe visit the woman they saved from jumping off the highway overpass and are happy to see that she is doing well. But the path to long-term treatment and recovery is not always easy. Sometimes there are setbacks and they often wish they could do more. With a new approach to policing, come new challenges for the officers - but the MHU's approach is clearly better than the alternative.

In addition to capturing Ernie and Joe at work, the film highlights the bond shared by the two men and their support of each other's personal growth. Ernie and Joe's passion for their work, combined with their deep rapport, makes clear the value of finding human connections during the most difficult times.

The film made its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival, where it received Special Jury Recognition.

ERNIE & JOE: CRISIS COPS was directed and produced by Jenifer McShane; executive produced by Andrea Meditch; cinematographer, E.J. Enriquez; editor, Toby Shimin; score by Tyler Strickland.

  [november 2019]  

(series past and present)
(series in development)
(tv movies and mini-series)

[11/14/19 - 09:43 AM]
NBC Renews Its Critically Acclaimed and Golden Globe Award-Winning Comedy "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" for an Eighth Season
The news comes in advance of its seventh season beginning on Thursday, February 6.

[11/14/19 - 08:30 AM]
Urban One, Inc. Announces a Star-Studded Lineup of Honorees for Urban One Honors: Jamie Foxx, Sylvia Rhone, Missy Elliott and Ryan Jamaal Swain
The two-hour telecast will air on TV One, a division of Urban One, on January 20, the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

[11/14/19 - 08:24 AM]
Science Channel Turns the Spotlight on the Ancient Kush Empire of Nubia in New Two-Hour Special "Lost Kingdom of the Black Pharaohs" Premiering Sunday, December 1 at 9PM
"This is unique and special program with rare and privileged access, that sets out to right a wrong perpetrated by early archeologists who refused to see or acknowledge the contributions of the black pharaohs to the glory of ancient Egypt," said Neil Laird.

[11/14/19 - 08:09 AM]
Wednesday's Broadcast Ratings: "CMA Awards" Put ABC in Front
The Alphabet's annual presentation is on par with a year ago among adults 18-49.

[11/14/19 - 05:16 AM]
15-Time Grammy(R) Award Winner Alicia Keys Returns as Host of "The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards(R)"
Last year's ceremony marked Keys' first time hosting an awards program and was met with praise from fans and critics alike.

[11/14/19 - 05:00 AM]
Multiplatinum-Selling Artist Ciara to Host the "2019 American Music Awards(R)," Airing Live Sunday, Nov. 24, on ABC
Plus: Kesha and Big Freedia join previously announced performers Camila Cabello, Billie Eilish, Selena Gomez, Dua Lipa, Lizzo, Thomas Rhett and Shania Twain, as well as Taylor Swift.

[11/13/19 - 01:01 PM]
Showtime(R) Presents "Eddie Griffin: E-Niggma" - New Stand-Up Special from the Veteran Comedian Premieres Friday, December 6 at 11 PM ET/PT
The hour-long special is filmed at the restored, historic landmark Sahara Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, home to many iconic performers including Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Lena Horne.

[11/13/19 - 12:15 PM]
Freeform Assembles the Cast for Pilot "Last Summer" from Bert V. Royal, Jessica Biel, Michelle Purple, Max Winkler and eOne
Chiara Aurelia, Mika Abdalla, Michael Landes, Froy Gutierrez, Harley Quinn Smith, Allius Barnes, Blake Lee, Nathaniel Ashton, and Brooklyn Sudano will star in the project.

[11/13/19 - 12:01 PM]
BBC America Announces Writers and Directors for All-New Season of "Doctor Who"
Three new writers have jumped on board the TARDIS for the upcoming season: Nina Metivier, Maxine Alderton and Charlene James.

[11/13/19 - 11:37 AM]
"For All Mankind" Has Been Renewed for a Second Season
Apple formally announced said pickup on social media this morning.

[11/13/19 - 11:31 AM]
New Season of "The Bachelor" Takes Flight Monday, Jan. 6, on ABC
The show's 24th season will kick off with a special three-hour premiere event.

[11/13/19 - 10:03 AM]
The Wolfpack Welcomes New Additions and New Challenges in a Brand-New Season of "Alaskan Bush People" Premiering Wednesday, December 4
The Brown family's quest to achieve their dream of a fully self-contained village is on the line in a brand-new season.

[11/13/19 - 10:01 AM]
TBS Orders a Fifth Season of "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee"
Additionally, TBS has renewed its first look deal with Bee's production company, Swimsuit Competition, that focuses on developing amusing original content that is definitely worth spending a weekend bingeing.

[11/13/19 - 10:01 AM]
Showtime Networks and A24 Films Close Output Agreement for A24 Feature Film Titles
The deal will include up to 16 films annually produced by A24.

[11/13/19 - 09:46 AM]
HGTV Greenlights New Event Series "Home Town Rescue" Starring Ben and Erin Napier
The Napiers will mobilize members of one community to renovate multiple individual homes in the town and upgrade public spaces, such as parks, local diners and/or recreational centers.