The highly controversial police tactic of stop-and-frisk has proven to reduce crime in major cities across the United States, but has also become a lightning rod issue creating a deep rift between the judicial system, police and the communities they serve. In the marginalized neighborhoods of Newark, police officers scour the streets looking for individuals or patterns of behavior they suspect lead to crimes, stop them, and without officially detaining them, search their clothes and belongings. The vast majority of stops do not result in arrests.

“Under Heavy Hands” is an intimate look into the use of this tactic in Newark, New Jersey - a city scarred by violent crime and a stone's throw away from the epicenter of the stop-and-frisk debate - New York City.