Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Copwatch sets up in Saskatoon

A grassroots form of civilian oversight has launched in Saskatoon. The group known as Copwatch intends to use video as one means of monitoring the conduct of the police. As noted in the article linked above:

"On foot or bike, Copwatch volunteers patrol streets where interaction between police and citizens is highest. The group documents -- often with video or audio recordings -- the interaction to ensure police officers aren't treading on the rights of citizens. Copwatch started with a group of citizens in Berkeley, Calif., before chapters sprang up in American and Canadian cities. Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal have active Copwatch chapters. Some chapters have posted videos of police brutality, sometimes leading to investigations. Critics argue the group has, in some cases, selectively edited video to exaggerate misconduct. The goal of any Copwatch chapter is to reduce police brutality and racial profiling, said Ashburn. Education about the rights of law enforcement and the rights of citizens will be a part of Copwatch's work in Saskatoon."

Insp.Dave Hayes who is in charge of the professional standards division of the SPS noted that:

"Any citizen in the city is more than welcome to record police officers while they're doing their jobs ... We shouldn't shy away from accountability. We believe our officers are going good work. . . . Unfortunately, sometimes conflicts end up in a physical arrest. Introduce emotions to the mix and I guess it comes down to the perception of what the officer has done."

In 2009, 77 police complaints were filed with the Saskatchewan Public Complaints Commission.

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