Documentary honors officers who have been injured or killed in line of duty

Posted Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
A

If you go

Heroes Behind the Badge will be shown at 6 p.m. Saturday at Harvest Church, 7200 Denton Highway, Watauga.

Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at heroesbehindthebadgefw.eventbrite.com

Police officers who are in uniform or with credentials will be admitted free.

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

A Wisconsin police officer shows off bullet fragments that were surgically removed from his body after a shootout with a sex offender. A small boy remembers how an officer he didn't know bought him a cookie at McDonald's and seconds later the officer was fatally shot in the head. A police chief in Arkansas describes the moment he responded to a shooting and arrived to find an officer -- his son -- dead on a highway.

The anecdotes vary in a 90-minute documentary Heroes Behind the Badge, but each are harrowing stories of law enforcement officers who were injured or killed on duty.

The film, which is mandatory for all Texas police academy classes, is scheduled for its first Dallas/Fort Worth screening on Saturday at Harvest Church in Watauga. The public is also invited to attend.

"Not even the most cynical cop or the most callused civilian can walk away without being moved by these stories," said executive producer Bill Erfurth, a retired, 26-year veteran with the Miami-Dade, Fla., Police Department. "Officers who've see it have told me it caused them to rethink their tactics on the job."

On average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States every 53 hours, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Since the first known line-of-duty death in 1791, more than 19,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have been killed on the job.

Erfurth, who spent 10 months last year filming the documentary, said the film is "not for Hollywood and not sugar-coated."

"It was a taboo topic, talking about an officer injured or killed," Erfurth said in a telephone interview. "Very little was discussed in police academies and I wanted to open the eyes of the general public to the sacrifice of law officers."

Erfurth and a film crew went behind the scenes to capture one memorable image after another throughout the country of officers, their supervisors, families and communities. The former Miami detective conducted the interviews.

"We wanted to capture a 'wow' factor and it's been more than that," Erfurth said.

The film was first screened in the fall and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education quickly notified Erfurth that it would mandate that all police recruits in the state see the documentary.

Watauga police Sgt. Jason Babcock saw it at a conference last year in Corpus Christi and began a campaign to have a screening in Watauga.

"The story of what we do was too strong," Babcock said. "It's a teaching tool and it sends some strong messages."

Babcock acknowledged that he debated on whether he would allow his three children -- ages 8 to 14 -- to attend.

"I decided that I would let them see what I do and to be proud," Babcock said.

As part of the screening, the Watauga police sergeant noted that about $4,500 has already been raised in donations from local businesses and service groups, money that will go to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and the Texas Peace Officers' Foundation. Proceeds from ticket sales also will go to those funds.

Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763

Twitter: @mingoramirezjr

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse, images, internet links or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?