Texas has become the first state to mandate for all academy classes the screening of a powerful new film that honors fallen LEOs and reinforces tactical awareness in those still on patrol.
The 90-minute documentary, “Heroes Behind the Badge,” produced by Bill Erfurth, a 26-year street veteran of Miami-Dade PD, features three gripping re-creations of incidents in which officers were murdered in the line of duty and three other high-profile cases of near death and survival.
The film is currently being screened around the country after premiering to enthusiastic buzz at the IACP’s annual conference last October. Last month, Erfurth says, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) notified him that it will be including “Heroes” in its recruit curriculum statewide–the first of what he hopes will become a trend.
Erfurth, who started working Miami’s mean streets on patrol and undercover during the city’s violent and chaotic “cocaine cowboy” era, told Force Science News that the slayings of four police friends during his first five years on the job spurred his determination to film a documentary that would “open the eyes of the general public to the sacrifice of law officers. I wanted it to be real, raw, and powerful–not for Hollywood and not sugar coated.”
During his police career, he gained insights into the film business through part-time work with professional TV and movie producers, including Jerry Bruckheimer, late of “CSI” fame. After he retired as a lieutenant about five years ago, Erfurth formed his own production company in Ft. Lauderdale, Modern City Entertainment, and joined with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to create “Heroes.” The final cut was crafted from 40 hours of footage.
The film delivers its message with one memorable image after another: an Ohio sheriff breaking down as he tells of a female deputy murdered in a trailer park on a shots-fired call…a Wisconsin officer showing fragments of a rifle bullet surgically removed from his body after a shootout with a sex offender…a chief in Arkansas describing the moment he responded to a shooting and came upon his officer son lying dead on a highway…a teenager fingering his murdered mother’s badge and talking about how he wants to be “a cop like her” to take bad guys off the street…a small boy recalling how an officer he didn’t know bought him a cookie at McDonald’s and moments later was fatally shot in the head as he sat at a traffic light.
“Not even the most cynical cop or the most callused civilian can walk away without being moved by these stories,” Erfurth says. “Every time ‘Heroes’ is shown, more and more people step up to champion it in different ways. One woman in Ohio has mounted a personal campaign to get it shown in every high school in the country.
“Officers who’ve seen it have told me it caused them to rethink how they behave on the job, from being less complacent to revising their tactics after witnessing the circumstances in which officers died.”
Erfurth has been invited to screen “Heroes” at the ILEETA training conference next spring, and the movie is currently played at some “Below 100” presentations.
To access more information, including scheduled screenings and a trailer, visit: http://www.heroesbehindthebadge.com.
DVD and Blu-ray copies can be purchased through the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which receives half of the net proceeds. CLICK HERE to go there.