Cruising for Cops

Copwatch, an earnest band of volunteers, aims to stamp out police brutality -- and vanquish institutional racism -- by aiming a camera.

Cradling a video camera in his hands, Lockrem sidles up to the scene and starts taping. It's too dark to get badge numbers, but the squad car number is entered with detailed notes about the call, time, location and description. The group informs a cop who it is and its purpose. With a few slight nods and bored blinks, the cops acknowledge they are being observed and taped. They ask the Latinos a few more questions, take some notes and radio in. Minutes later, the cops are back in their squad car and moving up the street.

The group hands out a few bust cards and answers a couple of questions. Then they climb back into the rental and dial in the scanner.

"This how it goes most of the time," says Lockrem resolutely, like the words are weighed down. "But we're not in it for the action."

Brannon Lockrem and Jean Reynolds videotape Tempe police in action, top; while a Copwatch volunteer hands out "bust cards," above.
Brannon Lockrem and Jean Reynolds videotape Tempe police in action, top; while a Copwatch volunteer hands out "bust cards," above.
Brannon Lockrem and Jean Reynolds videotape Tempe police in action
Paolo Vescia
Brannon Lockrem and Jean Reynolds videotape Tempe police in action

Contact Brian Smith at his online address: brian.smith@newtimes.com

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