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A New Docuseries Exposes America’s Epidemic of Dirty Cops

Vice TVAmerican police officers’ reputations have taken a public beating over the past few years thanks to a string of notorious incidents, peaking with the 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin. Homicide isn’t the only crime that cops commit, however, and Vice TV’s new Betraying the Badge (premiering July 19) shines a spotlight on some of the most infamous instances of individuals abusing their positions of law-enforcement power for their own unjust benefit.An eight-part docuseries each episode of which tackles a separate story, Betraying the Badge boasts a timely hook and a straightforward structural approach, using interviews with principal players, archival news clips and photographs, and copious stock footage—not to mention the occasional dramatic-recreation sequence—to recount its tales of police malfeasance. There’s absolutely nothing daring or exciting about the form assumed by Vice TV’s latest, and some of its imagery is all too familiar, be it wads of cash flipping through fingers, shadowy figures congregating in doorways, or flashing patrol car lights illuminating the urban night. Clichéd and corny, the show’s aesthetics aim low, leaving everything feeling a bit superficial and sensationalistic.Nonetheless, that functional approach doesn’t interfere with the proceedings’ basic objective, which is to highlight shameful sagas of cops breaking bad. Betraying the Badge’s premiere episode certainly does that efficiently, focusing on the late-’90s scandal that engulfed West New York, a small town (spanning only one square mile) that sits directly across from Manhattan on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. It’s a quiet and close-knit enclave of 50,000 residents who hail from diverse backgrounds—Cubans, Colombians, Central Americans, and Italians are all a part of its melting-pot stew. While they may have originally come from different parts of the world, though, West New Yorkers are by and large a working-class lot, and as Rich Rivera states early on in his episode, it was the sort of place where everybody knew everyone else.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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