South Bronx, New York. 1976. During one of the most chaotic periods in New York City's history, two filmmakers ride along with the police to document a city wracked by rape, gang warfare, murder, arson and petty revenge. ... more » Winner of three Emmys, a Peabody and the duPont Award, THE POLICE TAPES is a harrowing, real-life autopsy of the dangerous nighttime work of beat cops as they try to contain a community coming unraveled. In dramatically raw scenes, the officers of the 44th precinct let the camera "in on every secret of society," capturing explosive footage of a hostage situation, gangs strutting brazenly down the street, and murders impossible to solve. At the squad station and in the patrol car, cops speak candidly about their frustrations and fears in policing violent, crime-ravaged neighborhoods filled with angry, downtrodden people. From Hill Street Blues to Cops, the immediate and uncensored style of directors Alan and Susan Raymond influences a generation of police drama and reality shows. Perceptive and probing, THE POLICE TAPES is genius verité--a harrowing peek into the dark underbelly of society. DVD Features: Interview with the Filmmakers; Filmmaker Biographies; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection« less
"The "Police Tapes" was one of the first of its kind 'reality show,' which focused on the New York City Police Department in the Bronx, in the then-notorious 44th Precinct. It was done duing the 1970s in the South Bronx, in a police precinct that was not as well-known as the infamous 41st Precinct "Fort Apache," which was about four miles to the east of the 44 Precinct, but was suffering from the same human degradation as the 41 Precinct and the rest of the so-called South Bronx.
The Bronx Borough Commander at that time was Chief Tony Bouza, who was known for his articulate explanation of the 'theater of the absured' which was the Bronx. In his dialogue on the tape, Bouza attempts to put into real terms the issues which are affecting the Bronx...and the cops themselves...at that time, to the point where he says that maybe he shouldn't do such a good job, in order to let the problems be more exposed to the rest of the country.
This was to become one of the first of what was several TV shows and documentaries about the "South Bronx," which became a "city" forced to wallow in its own misery for years after the Police Tapes were made, despite its notoriety and the promises of many politicians.
The lack of 21st Century video technology shows, but enhances what you see.
Nothing like what was the "South Bronx" will ever happen again."
True Crime- Gritty!
Lawrence Du Lac | New York | 11/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Want to know what police work was really like in the South Bronx in the 1970's? This is the video for you! What's ironic is that while the buildings change, people's emotions do not. Cops today face the same trials and tribulations as yester year! Buy the video, and enjoy the video!"
'Fort Apache' action from New York City's seedy seventies
James Higgins | 07/20/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Starting from 1970, and going until ~ 1996, New York City slid into lawlessness and decay, and there was no better emblem of that process than the South Bronx. By 1976 the area came to define `The Ghetto' of modern times, and its 44th precinct station house was known as `Fort Apache' and mythologized in the 1981 feature film of that name.
As they reveal in a present-day interview included in the DVD, in 1976 the documentary film-making team of Allan and Susan Raymond got access to a newfangled, portable Sony video camera that recorded onto tape. While the camera weighed only a pound, the tape deck weighed close to 20 lb and had to be carried by a second person. The Raymonds decided that filming police work would be inherently dramatic, and they chose the 44th precinct as their subject, although, as Susan Raymond explains, the real topic of the documentary is not so much the police, but the South Bronx.
In grainy, low-lit footage we see `real' policing in all its squalid glory: breaking up fights between drunk and stoned residents; apprehending car thieves made psychotic by PCP; answering domestic disturbance calls (banging open a locked door is much more laborious and protracted than the `one-kick-it's-open' scenarios from movies and TV cop shows).
There is depressing footage of homicide victims, and folks from the `hood mugging and showboating for the camera, even as bereaved relatives shriek and wail in the background. There's nothing uplifting or noble about what goes on in the South Bronx, just blacks preying on other blacks and Puerto Ricans, and Ricans in turn preying on other Ricans and blacks. The (mostly white) cops of the 44th precinct are quite cynical about their daily duties amid the human wreckage.
It's left to their commander, Tony Bouza, to look at the camera and launch into standard-issue pop-sociology lectures about neglect, poverty, and violence, and the cancer in the body of America that the South Bronx represents.
`The Police Tapes' is an interesting look at New York City in all its seedy 70s glory and a reminder that the Ghetto Carnage that reigns today in cities like New Orleans, Baltimore, Detroit, and Buffalo is by no means something uniquely fostered by the advent of crack cocaine in the early 80s. Indeed, from the days of the Dead Rabbits and the massive gang wars of the early 19th century, on up to the South Bronx of the 70s, crime and violence were (and are) an integral part of urban life in the US. `The Police Tapes' let you experience it in the comfort of your living room ! "
Was A South Bronx Cop
John Rowland | Boynton Beach, Florida USA | 02/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I did South Bronx cop patrol in many commands including the 44 so know the so accuracy of The Police Tapes.Did three gunbattles 1969-70 46 Command and got a Japanese bayonet souvenir off a wild gun run in 44 where we kicked in a apartment door. Al Aaronson the great Daily News crime photograper was snapping us as we kicked in the door.So wow yes " The Police Tapes " is so vivid accurate. Viewing it literaly felt I was back on South Bronx patrol emotionally. The Police Tapes will be a true eye opener for lay folk but us South Bronx cops we only knew we wanted action and we found it.
The Police Tapes
Robert D. OMalley | NYC | 03/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a must see for the Police afficianado. If you like the television series "Cops" you'll love this. This was filmed in NYC in 1976. There are no scripts and its the real deal."