6:18am PT by Jackie Strause
BET to Explore Police Brutality With 'Copwatch America' Docuseries
BET Networks is tackling the copwatch movement.
Copwatch America, a one-hour original docuseries about copwatchers, is coming to the network. Across what BET describes as 10 frenetic episodes, Copwatch America is a high-stakes and controversial dive into the men and women who are on the front lines fighting police brutality and injustice. The series, described as action-driven and character-centric, will shine a light on America’s fearless and distinct copwatch crews with never-before-seen, unprecedented access to the frontline.
Copwatch America crosscuts the incredible stories of “copwatchers” from two U.S. cities, some of whom are lifelong activists and others who are new to the movement. Through these characters, viewers will come to understand the specific issues facing each community. Armed only with their cameras, they fight every day to protect citizens, amplify the truth and keep abuses of power in check.
As the series embeds with major Copwatch organizations in America's most volatile cities, viewers will get to know the real heroes behind the cameras and the personal stories that compelled them to put their lives on the line.
"BET Networks is committed to bringing important stories of systemic issues of race and justice across our nation to light. We are taking this on in a way no other brand and network can, through platforms like our powerful Finding Justice franchise and our upcoming original docuseries Copwatch America,” said Marisa Levy, vp head of unscripted, in a statement Tuesday. "We look forward to partnering with acclaimed storytellers Renowned Films and Critical Content and continue to empower our community and focus on activists who use video cameras to protect the rights and in some cases, the lives of African Americans in police encounters."
Copwatch America is created by Renowned Films and co-produced by Renowned Films and Critical Content. Executive producers are Max Welch, Tim Withers and Duane Jones for Renowned Films and Tom Forman for Critical Content.
"We’re incredibly excited to be working with BET, and the Copwatch movement on such an important and powerful series," said Welch on Thursday. “Copwatch America will be shocking, eye-opening, exhilarating, explosive, must-watch action getting to the core of one of the biggest issues facing America, its police and the communities they serve today. Prepare for plenty of confrontation, powerful personal stories, injustices and debate, as we capture the groundbreaking stories of those on both sides of the story in search of truth."
Forman, CEO of critical content at BET, adds, "I’ve spent my career telling law enforcement stories, but never from this perspective. Not even close. Hats off to BET for allowing us to tackle this subject matter in a way that speaks to their audience and this time."
BET has been expanding its programming and partnerships to tell diverse stories under the direction of Scott Mills, who took over the cabler from Debra Lee in December 2017. On the scripted side, the Lena Waithe comedy Twenties and Boomerang sequel recently joined a roster that includes recently renewed American Soul. BET's originals also include the upcoming series-finale movie of Being Mary Jane and the First Wives Club series, among others.