In this overwhelming era of Peak TV, it’s all too common to feel as if you’re missing something great. And here’s one new series that could be too easily overlooked: Flint Town, an eight-part Netflix docudrama about the crisis of policing in Flint, Michigan—a city that has been called one of the most violent places in America based on FBI data. It debuted with little fanfare on Friday, but this troubling and fascinating immersion in small-city crime and punishment should not be missed. Filmed largely by a trio of directors over 12 months in 2016, just as the city’s water lead-poisoning crisis had exploded into national view, the documentary trains a close eye on Flint’s police department as it attempts to bring a soaring crime rate down while building bridges to a community simmering with anger and undone by poverty.

Flint was once a prosperous middle-class city. A wrought iron archway in downtown declaring “Flint Vehicle City” speaks to its grander past. Now it’s a landscape of abandoned homes where crime is commonplace and citizens have to wait hours or even days for a police response. That’s because, as we’re told in the first episode, the Flint police department has been stripped of resources and manpower—more so than any comparable city in America. Where there were once 300 officers, there are now less than 100, serving about 100,000 residents. And some nights there are as few as four patrol cars covering the entire city.

“Police have the power to tear a city apart or help hold it together,” says Brian Willingham, one of the bracingly direct uniformed officers interviewed in the show. His words conjure cases of police misconduct in Ferguson, Missouri, and Charleston, South Carolina, and Staten Island, New York, as well as retaliatory episodes of violence against police in Dallas and Brooklyn, which occur during the time of the show’s filming. These events—and a Trump presidential campaign that made multiple visits to Flint—shadow the police force as it struggles to keep up with 911 calls. The police are a multiracial group, lead by a black police chief, but the citizens they’re serving are overwhelmingly black. There’s a current of racial tension crackling beneath every interaction caught on camera.

This makes the show mesmerizing to watch, as well as challenging. When the police chief creates a militarized tactical unit to target high-crime areas, his so-called proactive police work looks quite a bit like harassment. And at one roll call, the officers watch the cell phone video of the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile, which had occurred the day before in Minnesota. Not one of them expresses sympathy for the victim or his girlfriend. In fact, in the incredulous words of one (white) officer: “Her boyfriend just got shot four times by the police and her first reaction is take out her cell phone and start filming it. She was pretty callous about it.” This jarring lack of empathy speaks volumes about the sentiments that undergird the department’s tactics. It’s a credit to the filmmakers here that they do nothing to sugarcoat this and other troubling moments.

The show has flaws. I kept wishing for more context on the investigations and arrests. And while the photography is gorgeous—snowy footage of abandoned homes shot overhead by drone cameras—the filmmakers make a few missteps: tracking the romantic relationship between two photogenic white officers feels like a crass attempt at an idea of “mass-market appeal” that’s unworthy of the series. What keeps you watching, rather, is the wider drama with members of the community, who complain about the police department and accuse it of squandering resources. What the police call progress can feel like the opposite to the people they serve. The tension between the two shows no signs of going away. “We’re policing a community in survival mode,” says Willingham—who is as clear-eyed and direct as any of his police colleagues, “where the abnormal has become normal.”