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Author Topic: CopWatch Makes Sentinel Front Page  (Read 2074 times)

Pat McCotter

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CopWatch Makes Sentinel Front Page
« on: June 08, 2008, 10:22 AM NHFT »

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Candid camera aims at a badge
Watchdog group films traffic stops; Keene police welcome effort

PHILLIP BANTZ
Sentinel Staff

A group of activists armed with video cameras have taken to the streets aiming to keep local authorities in line.

Their efforts so far have resulted in criticism from some residents and the unexpected support of a Keene police officer.

Known as Copwatch, the group is a branch of a network of people in the U.S. and Canada who attempt to film police brutality and other instances of misconduct.

But what area Copwatchers said they've found so far is a respectable, fair police force and a handful of people who haven't taken kindly to their efforts.
 
"We've only been out about three times in downtown Keene. People will do things like put their hands in front of our cameras," said Nick J. Ryder, who helped launch the local branch of Copwatch. "They'll tell us that if it wasn't for the police, we wouldn't have the freedom to be standing there and recording."

But the videotaping hasn't ruffled any feathers at the Keene Police Department, which came as a pleasant surprise, said Ryder, a member of the Free State Project. This libertarian group advocates smaller government and opposes laws they feel reduce personal freedoms.

"The police have been surprisingly welcoming," he said. "I think they realize Copwatch isn't about finding things that are wrong with the police. It's about making them know we're not afraid to observe what they're doing. If the police are doing a good job, there's nothing to find."

Keene police Lt. Shane C. Maxfield agrees.

"We understand the basic premise behind what they're trying to do is good," he said. "Most of my officers don't mind that they're getting filmed. (The Copwatchers are) more than welcome to come out and videotape us just as long as they don't rush in and interfere with what the officers are trying to do."

Still, Maxfield said dealing with the Copwatchers can be a challenge.

"Sometimes they come running up and that distracts us from what we're trying to do. That is not an ideal situation," he said. "We might have a car stopped on Main Street. You hear footsteps and there are a couple of guys standing there with video cameras."

Maxfield reached out to the group at the beginning of May by joining an online discussion about Copwatch on www.nhunderground.com. He also invited members to ride in his police cruiser during one of his shifts.

"If these folks are going to be operating the way they are in and around Keene, then we might as well extend a hand and get into a dialogue with them," he said.

So far, Lauren Canario, another Free Stater, has been the only person to accept Maxfield's invitation and take a ride in his cruiser.

Canario made headlines last October after refusing to show her license and registration during a traffic stop in Milford. She does not recognize the government's power to require people to carry such documents.

The incident was filmed by Canario's husband and viewed by thousands on the Internet.

She spent 35 days in jail, refusing to talk with authorities, before finally agreeing to be arraigned on half a dozen charges stemming from the incident.

Ryder said he spoke with Canario, who could not be reached for comment, about her ride-along with Maxfield: "She said it was kind of interesting, but nothing really happened."

Another Free State member, Ian H. Bernard, said he and his girlfriend also want to take Maxfield up on his offer.

"It just seems like an opportunity to sit in with Maxfield and have a good conversation," he said. "I'm not really looking to learn anything."

As for Ryder, he has no plans to step into a cruiser.

"I don't really think it's a good use of my time. I'm sure there are things for me to learn, but I have other things to do like work and my hobbies," he said. "I don't want to sound like I'm scared to go. ... I've met Maxfield a few times and he seems like a nice guy."

During his online discussions with Copwatchers and Free Staters, Maxfield learned that some believed his ride-along invitation was an ambush.

"They were actually afraid to ride with me because they thought I was going to take them behind a store and beat the crap out of them, and that was a concern to me," he said. "The thing that surprised me is there seemed to be an impression amongst a lot of them that police, by their nature, just want to beat people up."

Intent on clearing the air of distrust and building rapport, Maxfield began answering dozens of questions Copwatchers posted online. He also invited them to call him at the police department.

They wanted to know if he'd ever smoked marijuana or driven drunk. They asked about his best and worst experiences as a police officer. Could he arrest himself? Would he ever arrest his mother? Why do some people dislike police?

"There were a lot of questions on there that I found interesting," Maxfield said. "To be honest, of course I've broken the law. Most people break laws at some point in their lives.

"When I was a junior in high school, I did drive hammered and I'm not proud of it. I was coming back from a keg party and doing about 10 mph. After making it home, I was horrified and decided I would never do that again."

While Maxfield said some of his colleagues thought he was "nuts" for interacting with the Copwatchers and Free Staters, he seems to have won over at least a few of the groups' suspicious members with his candidness.

"I believe the lieutenant is serving the community of Keene well by being available on this forum to answer questions community members have," wrote one poster named Highline. "I highly doubt you will find this willingness of interaction on his part in many other agencies."

Other group members criticize him for being a "power-hungry" police officer who was only trying to "schmooze" the Copwatchers with phony, calculated answers.

"Someone very wise told me a long time ago that the best lie is a lie with enough truth in it to make it palatable," wrote another poster named MGMAN. "Be careful, you might be surprised just how easy it is to start thinking most of the crap Cops do is OK and justified."

Maxfield expected mixed reactions.

"By getting on the darn thing and joining the discussion, I knew there would be a full spectrum of reaction," Maxfield said. "Hopefully I've accomplished something. Opening a dialogue can only result in something positive happening. It's an exchange of ideas."

Bernard said Copwatch has already accomplished a great deal.

"I would say it's been a success in that it's opened up some lines of communication between activists and police," he said. "They're aware we're here and we're aware of what they're doing."
 
 
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Coconut

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CopWatch Makes Sentinel Front Page
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2008, 12:47 PM NHFT »

Candid camera aims at a badge
Watchdog group films traffic stops; Keene police welcome effort
   

PHILLIP BANTZ
Sentinel Staff

A group of activists armed with video cameras have taken to the streets aiming to keep local authorities in line.

Their efforts so far have resulted in criticism from some residents and the unexpected support of a Keene police officer.

Known as Copwatch, the group is a branch of a network of people in the U.S. and Canada who attempt to film police brutality and other instances of misconduct.

But what area Copwatchers said they've found so far is a respectable, fair police force and a handful of people who haven't taken kindly to their efforts.

(see the entire article: http://www.sentinelsource.com/main.asp?SectionID=31&SubSectionID=37&ArticleID=190242)

Ma I'm in the news! You can see my brief comments on the article at www.freekeene.com
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kola

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Re: CopWatch Makes Sentinel Front Page
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2008, 01:01 PM NHFT »

coconut,
are you aware of any Copwaters who came "running up" to film them?

that was something maxfield stated in the article.

i see highline didnt reveal his real name for the article huh?
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Coconut

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Re: CopWatch Makes Sentinel Front Page
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2008, 03:12 PM NHFT »

coconut,
are you aware of any Copwaters who came "running up" to film them?

that was something maxfield stated in the article.

i see highline didnt reveal his real name for the article huh?

Often if we see blue lights, we are running to the scene if we don't have bikes. We don't run up to the cop's face or anything, but we are often trying to quickly travel by foot.

I think Highline's quote was taken from this forum, not a personal interview.
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Kat Kanning

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Re: CopWatch Makes Sentinel Front Page
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2008, 05:15 PM NHFT »

Merged the two topics on this subject.
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kola

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Re: CopWatch Makes Sentinel Front Page
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2008, 05:48 PM NHFT »

yeah coconut, that would not be a good thing to do.

big flouresent orange reflective vests with big letter saying COPWATCH are perfect.

and keep your distance.

i wonder how cops would enjoy being filmed off duty. They invade our personal space and time 24/7.

i always like seeing how often they take the cruiser home and if they go home for lunch how many hours they take doing it....and how often they visit strip clubs, bars, casinos etc.

i really dislike when a cop purposely follows behind me when I am driving even though I did nothing wrong. Usually I just pull over. Either they would pass me or pull behind me, get out and ask questions and/or make something up to charge me with. That's one reason I left NY.

Kola
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Coconut

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Re: CopWatch Makes Sentinel Front Page
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2008, 05:55 PM NHFT »

yeah coconut, that would not be a good thing to do.

how else do you suggest we respond to a situation quickly besides running to it? Should people running on the sidewalk be a concern for officers?
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kola

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Re: CopWatch Makes Sentinel Front Page
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2008, 07:06 PM NHFT »

yeah coconut, that would not be a good thing to do.

how else do you suggest we respond to a situation quickly besides running to it? Should people running on the sidewalk be a concern for officers?

The worst thing you can do is startle a cop who is focused on someone or something else. I wouldn't like it. If you startle a trigger-happy cop, you could wind up dead, accidentally. When you run up to a cop who is confronting someone pulled over you have no idea whether its a simple traffic infraction or a bank robber, murderer etc. The cop could be under an adrenaline buzz and any little distraction could escalate the situation. With most videocams they have a zoom feature. Keep a safe distance and use the zoom. When a cops sees you, tell him you are with COPWATCH and give them a safe zone to carry out their nazi games.

Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and don't interfere. You have no idea who or what you may be running up to.

Copwatch rule #1 : Your only job is to observe. And do it from a safe distance, for you and the thugs.

Kola
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Coconut

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Re: CopWatch Makes Sentinel Front Page
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2008, 07:19 PM NHFT »

yeah coconut, that would not be a good thing to do.

how else do you suggest we respond to a situation quickly besides running to it? Should people running on the sidewalk be a concern for officers?

The worst thing you can do is startle a cop who is focused on someone or something else. I wouldn't like it. If you startle a trigger-happy cop, you could wind up dead, accidentally. When you run up to a cop who is confronting someone pulled over you have no idea whether its a simple traffic infraction or a bank robber, murderer etc. The cop could be under an adrenaline buzz and any little distraction could escalate the situation. With most videocams they have a zoom feature. Keep a safe distance and use the zoom. When a cops sees you, tell him you are with COPWATCH and give them a safe zone to carry out their nazi games.

Ok then. In my defense, I would run up to a distance that is suitable for observing, not up to the actual scene. Sometimes we are literally on the other side of main street, and walking would get us to the situation after it is over.
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Russell Kanning

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Re: CopWatch Makes Sentinel Front Page
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2008, 07:59 PM NHFT »

interesting

in some future article they can quote me on that :)
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kola

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Re: CopWatch Makes Sentinel Front Page
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2008, 08:23 PM NHFT »

Mr. Nick J Ryder, COPWATCH President of Keene NH Chapter.

sounds good!

Kola

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Coconut

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Re: CopWatch Makes Sentinel Front Page
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2008, 10:23 PM NHFT »

Mr. Nick J Ryder, COPWATCH President of Keene NH Chapter.

sounds good!

Kola

Zapher got it going, I just happened to be the one that responded for an interview :)
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K. Darien Freeheart

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Re: CopWatch Makes Sentinel Front Page
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2008, 10:36 PM NHFT »

Looks like Keene needs some new action. They're reporting on stuff that happened a while ago. :D
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kola

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Re: CopWatch Makes Sentinel Front Page
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2008, 10:42 PM NHFT »

Looks like Keene needs some new action. They're reporting on stuff that happened a while ago. :D

How about "MayorWatch"?

errr... GovernorWatch

BureaucraticWatch
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kola

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Re: CopWatch Makes Sentinel Front Page
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2008, 10:42 PM NHFT »

Mr. Nick J Ryder, COPWATCH President of Keene NH Chapter.

sounds good!

Kola

Zapher got it going, I just happened to be the one that responded for an interview :)

ok...Vice Prez.
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