While it may seem a good idea for everyone to split-up to cover mo
re ground, it’s much safer for Cop
watching to be done in pairs, if not more numerous teams. Each team should have at least two peoplewith cameras. The more cameras the better. Alternatively, one activist with a camera and a secondactivist with a live streamed-enabled smart phone is a good combination since video streamed live tothe web cannot be deleted by aggressive police looking to destroy evidence of their misconduct. Livestreamed video is archived online for later use.If possible, bolster your effectiveness by having at least one radio per team (to communicate) and atleast one person monitoring area police scanners (more below). Have handouts
such as quarter-sheetflyers, stickers or business cards to distribute. When Cop watching
you’ll meet a lot of receptive people –
if you can provide them with a resource they’ll be much more likely to follow
-up later and may even oneday join you on the streets or donate to help you continue your activities.A final note on attire
s best for team members to wearsomething that resembles a uniform. PROP T shirts, with neonsafety vests are a good idea. This will make your presence obviousto both the community as well as the police and create a saferatmosphere. If cop watching is done consistently not only will thepolice modify their behavior, but so will real criminals.
Cop Watch Roles
Point person closest to scene that uses live streaming technology if available (free smartphone app). Each situation is
different but generally it’s a good idea to approach a scene in the line of sight of the cop, both for your safety and so they can’t claim they were caught off
-guard. If the scene is atraffic stop and the cop is running information in their cruiser it could be a good opportunity tocommunicate with the person stopped.
Back-up person at periphery armed with a video camera. Camera B should always keep thepolice and Camera A in their camera view. If the point person (Camera A) is arrested or their camera isstolen, safeguarding footage of the incident is paramount. If the point person ends up in court thefootage collected by the back-
up person (Camera B) will ensure the person wearing a badge doesn’t
create a reality that exonerates their actions.
The third person should stand at a safe distance or across the street if possible while stillhaving a complete view of the scene. They should try to keep all parties in the view of the camera. Thishelps create a complete context if the videos must be used as evidence. It also decreases the chance of arrest for that activist who can be the emergency contact and let family, friends and other activists knowif a cop watcher or community member has been arrested. If there is an arrest and Camera C has theopportunity they should try to take the cameras before the police confiscate them.
Vehicle(s) involved in Cop watching activity expand the range of coverage and can act astransports for Cop watchers
if needed. Though it’s not missi
on-critical it often helps to have wheelswhen on patrol. At a minimum two individuals should be in each mobile unit
one to focus on driving