By Mark Saldana

Rating 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

This engrossing and affecting documentary officially kicked of my virtual Cine Las Americas 23. Just from reading the premise, I had a strong feeling that the timely themes and issues it addresses would make for a very compelling and revelatory film. Director Maisie Crow follows a group of high school students who aspire to work in law enforcement, and follows their experiences as they participate in exercises, competition and education as part of a law enforcement club. Crow’s film gives a glimpse into the kind of people who have a strong interests in law enforcement careers, but also shows their growth as the more mature students realize that the reality of such careers is not at all adventurous and much more perilous.

The subjects of the film are various high school students in El Paso who are interested in either working as Border Patrol or U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Under the tutulage of retired law enforcement officers, the teens learn about the careers through drills and competition. They also discuss the political controversies associated with such work, revealing how most police officers lean. This proves to be eye-opening and conflicts with some of the students’ beliefs, while the beliefs of others get reinforced. Unfortunately, this hints that a lot of the more mature and intelligent students get discouraged from following through and becoming officers of the law, while the immature, more thrill-seeking teens seem to have continued with their endeavors.

Director Maisie Crow does a fantastic job presenting this story and the very personal stories of the students highlighted in the film. The director never makes broad generalizations about people in law enforcement or the young people interested in pursuing these careers, but simply presents them naturally as who they really are. It is disheartening to see the more altruistic and empathetic students lose interest in the careers, as I feel that these are qualities needed badly in law enforcement, but such is the reality of the career. On the other hand, it is very heartening to see these same students find the inner strength to be true to themselves and discover better paths for their futures.

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