Since the August 9 shooting of Ferguson, Missouri resident Michael Brown a national debate has raged regarding how to deal with incidents of police violence and how to safely hold police accountable.
One method of transparency is to place “body cameras” on law enforcement officers in an effort to document interactions between citizens and police. The last couple years have seen over one thousand law enforcement agencies adopt body cameras for their officers. Following Brown’s death, two private companies donated cameras to the Ferguson Police Department. Most recently, the Border Patrol announced they would be arming their agents with body cameras beginning October 1.
While the nation continues to debate the necessity and effectiveness of body cameras on police officers, one group is arming Ferguson residents with their own cameras to film police encounters. KSDK reports that activists with We Copwatch are encouraging Ferguson residents to film the police with their own cameras. To do this the California-based group raised more than $6,000 so they could give Ferguson residents 110 cameras.
On Saturday September 20, We Copwatch partnered with Ferguson-based Canfield Watchmen to give out free cameras and information on how to film police encounters. David Whitt of the Canfield Watchmen and Jacob Crawford of We Copwatch met with residents of the Canfield Green Apartments near the site of Michael Brown’s shooting death.
The two men discussed how to communicate with police when approached, and how to respond to violent encounters. While Crawford and Whitt discussed how to deal with aggressive officers in an ideal situation, they also seemed to understand that many encounters with officers do not go as planned. Sometimes the best strategy is to remain calm, they said.
“Ferguson Police are now on notice that 110 residents in the neighborhood of Canfield are armed with Copwatch Cameras and the training to use them.”
Jacob Crawford told Ben Swann.com that the “Ferguson Police are now on notice that 110 residents in the neighborhood of Canfield are armed with Copwatch Cameras and the training to use them.” He spoke about the neighborhood rallying together after Brown’s death and taking steps to ensure “police will no longer roll through the Canfield neighborhood and harass residents without a response from the community.”
We Copwatch was founded in 2013 with the goal of reducing violence and harassment through accountability. The group seeks to empower and unite communities by creating alternatives to police involvement.