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Crime + Punishment

The vital documentary about policing and the NYPD 12 is streaming now.

Alissa Wilkinson covers film and culture for Vox. Alissa is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

Metacritic score: 88

The practice of policing based on quotas — requiring officers to arrest a minimum number of people within a particular time frame — was outlawed in New York City in 2010. Such requirements, opponents argued, turned police officers away from serving the community and finding ways to dispel violence before it happens.

Instead, officers would end up making arrests to fill quotas. And those arrests often happened disproportionately in low-income minority communities. But outlawing quotas didn’t make them go away.

Using interviews, secretly recorded conversations, and other footage shot from 2014 to 2017, Stephen Maing’s documentary Crime + Punishment explores the NYPD’s ongoing but concealed use of quotas and their effects on not just the citizens of New York but officers in the police department, too.

The resulting documentary is damning and revealing, vital watching for New Yorkers, but important for everyone who cares about justice on their city’s streets and in its precincts — especially because the NYPD’s system of policing is a template for police forces across the country. (Streaming on Hulu.)