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Concerned Citizens Form Copwatch in Watsonville

Watsonville, CA October 18, 2004 --- Copwatch, a nonviolent group to observe and monitor police activities is being formed by Watsonville citizens concerned about police misconduct and abuse of power in the Watsonville community. Following examples set by other Copwatch groups across the nation, members of Watsonville Copwatch, concerned with the lack of police accountability, will launch observation patrols and "Know-Your-Rights" trainings in order to increase the community's oversight of police activities.

see also: Santa Cruz Copwatch

related audio: Andrea Prichett on Community Justice and Police Alternatives

Copwatch chapters exist in at least 6 other cities, including the 10 year old Berkeley Copwatch, and the newly formed Copwatch in East Palo Alto. Copwatch patrollers take down badge numbers, provide written testimony, and in some cases videotape or audiotape the interactions between police and citizens. The objective of Copwatch is to train the public in non-confrontational, nonviolent techniques with which they can increase their ability to observe police actions, and thus reduce police brutality and other civil rights violations. Watsonville Copwatch will be networking with other community groups and work towards amassing incident reports which will be presented to City Council encouraging increased regulation of the Police Department, if necessary.

Watsonville Copwatch's goals are to increase public accountability for police, strengthen community solidarity against all forms of racism, sexism, ageism, and classism, reinforce a standard of non-violence, prevent harassment by standing witness, and reinvest community conflict resolutions. Copwatch is dedicated to a policy of non-violence and non-interference, wanting only to encourage people to use their right to observe the police with the intention of preventing police misconduct. Its purpose is to protect underprivileged people who are often victims of police misconduct and are either unable to or prevented from speaking out for themselves.

To mark the beginning of Watsonville Copwatch, a "Know Your Rights" training will be held for the community on November 6 at the main plaza from 12-3PM. People who attend will receive training on rights of a person stopped by police, what to look for when someone else is stopped by police, safety techniques for observing police, what to do if someone's rights are violated, and how to document incidents of police misconduct. Copwatch encourages community members to attend this training session.

Copwatch hopes for community awareness in order that people will watch out for their rights and the rights of other at all times, particularly in encounters with the police.

For information:


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Re: Concerned Citizens Form Copwatch in Watsonville

I went to observe police conduct at a standoff with my video camera.....when I was told to leave the area...I objected, and am now facing a charge of police obstruction.

Re: Concerned Citizens Form Copwatch in Watsonville

That does happen and is definitely worth trying to fight. I know of copwatchers that have been charged with interfering, obstruction, obstructing aid to an officer in immediate danger, etc., but have generally been successful in court. The individual departments policy vary. Some have a definition of lunging distnace where you have to be far enough away you can't easily tackle an officer. Others let you get closer. Another test is if they are letting other members of the public pass by and you have this on tape is a good indication that your presence was not obstructing. If you are on public property, but no other members are passing by it is good to at least take one step back if asked then reevaluate the situation.

In general an officer an charge you with anything. Then you can have the charges droppped in court if they have no merit. But if you want any kind of relief for it you have to show it was a wrongful arrest and/or the officer should have known better than to charge you with these charges.

Re: Concerned Citizens Form Copwatch in Watsonville

Is your videotape of your interaction with the police still intact and do you have any other witnesses?

Re: Concerned Citizens Form Copwatch in Watsonville

And sometimes you can't always win. It may be worth it to take what documentation you have and back off and then try to fight that they didn't have a good reason to tell you to leave.

But in the more general talk of improving oversight and accountability listen to Andrea's talk.

Re: Concerned Citizens Form Copwatch in Watsonville

I would be interesting to know what city?

I will soon have a copy of the Santa Cruz general orders. They are currently not available at the library or available for perusal at the police department, and are possibly being rewritten. Maybe the new ones will be at the library. I had to pay $78.80 for the costs of producing my copy under the California Public Records Act and plan to donate a copy to the library.

Re: Concerned Citizens Form Copwatch in Watsonville

I am fighting this charge,and there was a witness,but they are holding my videotape as evidence.Your efforts to start a Copwatch chapter are to be commended.

Re: Concerned Citizens Form Copwatch in Watsonville

The city is Thunder Bay,Ontario,Canada.By the way,a Copwatch chapter is also starting in Winnepeg,Manitoba.

Re: Concerned Citizens Form Copwatch in Watsonville

Cool. Glad to hear of more copwatches starting up. I'm not familiar at all with the law in Canada. I don't know if my advice is applicable.

How presumptive of me :-) !

I would be interested in hearing how things go if you want to email me, not in the indymedia comments.

Re: Concerned Citizens Form Copwatch in Watsonville

many people are interested in hearing how things go!

go ahead and publish an article on SC-IMC!

good luck in watsonville, winnepeg and santa cruz!


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