Copwatch

Copwatching is the practice of monitoring police by civilians, often using recording equipment to document their actions. A tactic first used by the Black Panther Party, copwatching has evolved to encompass a variety of techniques. Numerous groups throughout the US and elsewhere in the world call themselves copwatch, but there is no central organization or even a loose network; groups are autonomous but often linked by shared ideology (in a manner similar to Food Not Bombs).

Copwatching is a tactic with relevance to public health because it aims

  • to hold crooked cops accountable by providing evidence of their misdeeds
  • to reduce police brutality and misconduct by creating a deterrent for police in specific cases and in general (as police begin to wonder if they are on camera at any given time)
  • to create a sense of security in communities affected by police violence by providing recourse
  • to create dialog around the problem of police repression and foster and support resistance to policing
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