In a remarkable program, "Good Cop . . . Bad Kid?" (Sunday at 7 p.m. on NBC, Channels 4, 36 and 39), filmmaker Lee Stanley documents the latest of his social experiments that thrust hard-core juvenile criminals into new and challenging situations to expand their horizons, and perhaps to turn their lives around.
In the Emmy-winning "Desperate Passage," Stanley had convicted offenders crew a sailboat; he directed "Gridiron Gang," about a detention facility's football training program, which seemed to make men of some of those involved. In one of his most dramatic ventures, "A Time for Life," Stanley awakened compassion in tough young criminals by pairing them with seriously ill children.
"Good Cop . . . Bad Kid?" is one of his best efforts, notable for its eloquent simplicity as Stanley films what happens when two skeptical veteran Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies spend three days with a gangbanger and a teen-age drug user/dealer.
Violent gang member Aaron accompanies Deputy Lee on patrol with an initial cynicism: "I just want to see what cops do besides beat up people." He gets an eye-opening view of life on the other side--the stress, the danger, the adrenaline rush, the disgust.
Corina, a teen-age drug dealer and daughter of a prostitute heroin addict, has a similar experience going on drug busts with tough Deputy Beck of the K-9 division.
Both juveniles find out what a healthy, loving family can be like when they go home with their temporary guardians. There are no bleeding-heart postures or happy endings, however--just a documentation of human connections and responsible parenting that, in the long term, may be the only real answer to the youth violence and crime that diminish all of us.