We are deeply troubled and angered by NYPD Commissioner William Bratton’s comments regarding the practice of documenting police activity to deter abuse, a practice we call “Cop Watch.”
In light of decades of police abuse of low-income communities of color and a systemic lack of police accountability, Cop Watching is an important grassroots tool New Yorkers can use to help protect one another. It is also constitutionally protected. This is why, for many years, the Justice Committee has worked to train New Yorkers to conduct Cop Watch safely and effectively and spread the practice as a civic duty.
The fact that Bratton is attempting to criminalize the practice of Cop Watch rather than affecting systemic change within the NYPD is disgraceful. Cop Watching is about witnessing violence and loving your neighbor, not interfering with the police. Bratton’s mischaracterization of this practice raises serious questions about why he wants to avoid public scrutiny and demonstrates his lack of commitment to ensuring safety and respect for all New Yorkers.