The new era of live streaming is SIDEKIK! Not only does it safeguard your recording of the incident with live stream and cloud storage, but for about $5 per month you have access to an attorney to represent you on the spot. This attorney will actually speak with to the law enforcement officer immediately on your behalf at the time of the incident. There is no extra fee for the attorney to represent you later should the detainment lead to a false arrest, abuse, or otherwise. Video
registration, and insurance, and that all passengers are wearing seat belts. Refrain from playing loud music or being a disturbance that would violate noise pollution laws and ordinances and used as an excuse to detain and arrest you. If you, even slightly, divert from the letter of the law, you may end up doing more harm than good and could get yourself arrested. Do not give them any excuse to retaliate or give them any chance to "get even". Cop Watching is best done with two or three others. There is a power in numbers. Designate a spokesperson who is comfortable with the responsibility of responding to police, asking for names and badge numbers, documenting squad car numbers and license plates squad car numbers, and other pertinent information.
Be prepared to be arrested. Though Cop Watching is not illegal, police will create charges to retaliate and "get rid of you". Know what you will and will not do in extreme situations. Consider in advance what risks you are willing to take and what charges you are prepared to receive in order to intervene if someone is being beaten, injured, or killed by the police. Decide this ahead of time and talk about it within your group, so all of you know what to expect from one another.
Since Ferguson, people are beginning to realize the need for police oversight, but in the process, we still need protection from the "protect and serve". Organize a group. You will likely Cop Watch in areas near your home where you are familiar with police activity. Start by asking friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Create and pass out "business" contact cards and flyers onbulletin boards of churches, gyms, grocery stores, colleges campuses, hospitals, doctors offices, lawyers, psychologists, and facilities that focus on victim recovery. The idea is to speak about your mission to everyone, everywhere. Hold regular, accessible, well-advertised meetings—don’t depend on the internet alone to raise awareness. Many of those who need Cop Watch, are unlikely to have easy or regular computer access. Educate everybody about their legal rights and how to respond to police. Discuss the goals of your group and enact a plan to achieve them. Review your plan regularly to determine if you are on track or if some details need adjusting. Your group will be more effective if it is well organized. You may consider using 2 way radios as a means to communicate with each other if you break into groups. Download a police scanner app for your phone and a live stream account. Create a YouTube channel to upload your recordings, properly tagging key words such as “police brutality”, “cop watch”, “record the police” and name the police station and department involved, etc.
Organizing a Cop Watch Program
The mission of a Cop Watch Community is to promote transparency while our tax-paid public servants carry out their duties. By recording the interactions between law enforcement and the public, these officers are forced to make a decision at the risk of being exposed and held accountable for their illicit behavior. When it's the officers’ word against the victims’ , with whom do you think a judge is more likely to side with? You are recording for accountability and safety of the parties. By recording police encounters, involving you or a bystander, you eliminate a lot of questions and provide a clear understanding of the incident. Sure, many police officers wear body cams, but it is common knowledge that, since there is no oversight, that video, can disappear, be damaged, lost, turned off, deleted, you name it. It is wise to record for your records just in case anything like this happens in your case. Cop Watchers seek justice for all parties involved, exposing unfit, abusive, and militarized police officers in the process. Cop Watch volunteers patrol the streets, observing police and recording their interactions with the People to derail injustice and the commission of a police state.
If you are on Cop Watch it is safest and advisable to ensure that you are not in violation of any laws. There should be no drugs, alcohol, or illegal weapons on your person or in your system. Cops who find your first amendment right to be threatening, will look for any reason to "get back at you", sometimes issuing false citations for a bike headlight confiscating your camera, or even arresting you. If you are traveling by car, make sure that the driver has a valid driver license,
There is always a possibility of arrest when dealing with arrogant police officers having the misguided mentality that they call the shots. Police officers will use the line, "if you're not doing anything wrong, then it shouldn't be a problem if I search you or take a look inside your property", in order to get consent to violate your Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches. This thought process can also be used with regards to cop watching, only this is your right, not a slime tactic to violate anyone's rights. "Officer, if you're not doing anything wrong, then it shouldn't matter if I record your interactions with the public while you are on duty." Cop Watching is not illegal. Nonetheless, police will create charges to retaliate or "get rid of you". Know what you will and will not do in extreme situations. Consider in advance what risks you are willing to take and what charges you are prepared to receive in different scenarios. It is wise to have an attorney and bailbondsman identified just in case you find yourself in this situation.
Once you are comfortable and have a few fellow watchers on your team, you could venture out to other communities, especially targeted areas known for police brutality. People from communities that are terrorized will often be understandably afraid to stand up for themselves. A Cop Watch program can be the first step towards solidarity with each other. All you need to Cop Watch is a recording instrument, be it paper and a pen, camera, video camera, cell phone, or an audio recording device.
It is advisable to research the area and perhaps speak with residents to make sure you understand the area's demographics. This is a great way to expand the program, educate, and provide hands on training so they can start a Cop Watch in their neighborhood. Consider going door to door, introducing your group and raising awareness of your mission. Be open to input from the residents as they will be the ones left to deal with any backlash from the police. You could hold classes in different places throughout your city, formal or informal, at libraries, festivals, and other high traffic events on the weekends. If you commit, do not fail those to whom you have given your word.
When the cops are particularly brutal or kill someone, sound the horn on them and don't let up. Let the survivors know where they can find your YouTube channel to use as evidence. Offer to organize protests or benefit events, screenprint shirts, or be their media liaison. Petition for laws and regulations that enforce stricter controls on police.
Plan B. Having a second recording device for back up is a good idea just in case the police illegally confiscate your recording device or delete your recording. You could use a body can, go-pro, or audio recorder. Check wire tapping laws in your area.
Streaming Applications. If you have the capability to download a live streaming application to your device, this would be ideal. With these apps, your video is uploaded in real time and stored remotely, as opposed to locally on your device where it may be accessible to police. If the police destroy, delete, tamper, confiscate (steal), or lose your recording device or footage. In extreme cases, police will smash or confiscate and “lose” your equipment to keep you from having evidence against them. If it seems like this might happen, a member of your group should swiftly leave the area with the evidence that has been gathered so far.
Smartphone live streaming applications to download:
The best defense is a good offense. Any time you record the police, it is impossible to predict what will actually ensue. However, it is important that you have mentally prepared by anticipating possible scenarios and how you will respond to each. Assert your rights and trust your gut. It is advisable to watch the various approaches taken by different Cop Watchers and decide which methods you best identify with or feel most comfortable using.
Contact Cards. You never know when you will have the opportunity to impart knowledge on fellow citizens. You may even have people, especially those who are involved in traffic stops that you record. Many times they are upset that you are recording them and cops add fuel to the fire by whispering in their ear. You can always respond to the suspect with, "I am recording the police", or "I'd be happy to speak with you about it after you are done with the police". That is a perfect opportunity to share the mission, hand them a contact card to get a hold of you or link to your YouTube site for a copy of the footage. You may even have and invite them to join you next time. Raising awareness and consistently establishing new connections in your neighborhood will quickly grow your Cop Watch community to hold public servants accountable, and once again the People will govern the land.
Less is more. Ideally it is advisable to refrain from providing any personal or identifying information to the police. If you are recording on behalf of another private citizen, the suggested method would be to approach the encounter on foot, bicycle, or any means that does not require you to furnish your driver license. If you drive up onto a scene, park out of sight in case they aren't excited about you recording. This way, they can't (unlawfully) run a search on your license plate and find your identity anyway, despite and even after you have denied consent. In the event that you are falsely arrested, they would impound your vehicle, to extort more money from you, so this is for YOUR safety, your protection. It is best not to make yourself unnecessarily vulnerable to police, or give them ammunition for retaliatory tactics if they don't get their way. These types of tactics are all derivatives of the abuse of power.
Power In Numbers
It is not recommended that you Cop Watch alone if there are other options. You should not ignore those in exceptional danger just because you are alone, but be aware that lone Cop Watching entails taking extra risk. Be less assertive in engaging the police or the individual being detained or arrested than you would be if you were in a group. Police officers are much more likely to arrest or assault you if there are no other witnesses present. Make sure you are obeying the law to the tee and keeping your distance from the encounter that you are recording. Call someone to give them a heads up that you are recording, your location, and if possible a police car number or a brief first look description of the stop.
There will always be more private citizens than law enforcement. We should not FEAR people we employ, especially those who "protect and serve" us. Once we realize that things will change when we unite and stand up to these public servants, we can sustain our free beacon. Hopefully one day people will record every police encounter, especially on behalf of others. Could you imagine a street of passersby pointing their cameras at a few police officers writing a citation? Who truly holds the power?
If you are with other people when you are stopped or questioned, everyone should have their cell phones out recording the police in case of arrest, confiscation, tampering, or deleting your footage. They will do it, then lie about it.
During your encounters with police, be firm and unyielding rather than passive or unsure, but remain polite.
If you feel it is warranted, you can call 9-1-1 and report that someone is being injured.
Wait until the end of the 9-1-1 call to note that the police are the abusers, but don’t leave that out, and stick to the facts.
All 9-1-1 calls are recorded and are relatively hard for the justice system to “lose,” they can provide useful documentation for legal proceedings.
If a detainee is let go or ticketed, make use of the opportunity to give your flyers and rights cards to them.
If you do edit your videos, be sure to keep the original copy too, as this can provide damning evidence for the victim.
Down the Line
Once your team is established, you may want to consider obtaining a Cop Watch Hotline for you local community to call in and report police activity. If your team is large enough, think about scheduling shifts rotating among members. You could also start your own local Cop Watch newspaper or create a website.