HBO Documentary Films has acquired Jenifer McShane’s (“Mothers of Bedford”) documentary ERNIE & JOE that follows San Antonio, Texas police officers Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro, who are diverting people from jail and into mental health treatment.

Recently making its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival, where it received Special Jury Recognition, ERNIE & JOE was also awarded the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature at this year’s Independent Film Festival Boston. The film will continue its festival run with screenings at the upcoming AFI DOCS Film Festival and debut on HBO later this year.

Part of the San Antonio Police Department’s ten-person mental health unit, Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro are putting compassionate policing practices into action. ERNIE & JOE chronicles their daily encounters with people in crisis, showing how their innovative approach to policing – which takes mental health into account – is having a dramatic effect on the way police respond to these challenges.

“I am deeply grateful to HBO Documentary Films for bringing this story to a national audience and hope other police and mental health professionals can benefit from the experience of ERNIE & JOE,” says director Jenifer McShane.

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