MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A new documentary gives viewers an inside look at Minneapolis Police. The director of “Women in Blue” had full access to the department for three years. The film focuses on race, gender and violence in policing.

Former Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau gave the green light for director Deirdre Fishel in 2017.

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“She gave me really full access to follow any woman who felt comfortable sharing her story,” Fishel said.

Fishel says she pursued the documentary to explore what women bring to the profession, after learning studies show women use less force.

“People should be looking at race and policing, but also this intersection of gender, race and policing because some of that more aggressive style is what leads to the kind of police violence that also impacts communities of color,” Fishel said.

It follows Minneapolis’ first female chief, and other female officers, some in leadership roles. And Fishel says it looks at how they try to reform the department from within.

“There are scenes in the film that I think are troubling. I think that women are expected to kind of fit in so that was kind of troubling, mostly people of color being stopped, again I think it’s complicated,” Fishel said.

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Her team was there when now-former Minneapolis Police officer Mohammed Noor shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk Damond. They shared the impact when Harteau stepped down and Medaria Arradondo became chief. He allowed the project to continue.

“I wanted to hear what he had to say about why he had made that particular choice not to include women in the executive team when he stepped into the position of chief,” Fishel said.

Along the way she and her team discovered more, and share the broad picture of what she calls a department in urgent need of change long before the death of George Floyd.

“I saw how incredibly complicated it is. I think one thing is everybody is very eager for change and the truth is, change is very, very hard. So I hope the film also reflects a little bit of that,” Fishel said.

Women in Blue airs Monday night, Feb. 8 at 9 p.m. on Independent Lens on PBS/TPT. It will also be available for free on the PBS video app and pbs.com

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Jennifer Mayerle