Editor's note: Copwatch of East Atlanta is part of a national network of citizens groups that records alleged incidents of police brutality and highlights individuals' Constitutional rights with respect to detentions, and or arrest. Its methods have come under fire, however, and this Op-Ed explains a recent decision by the Kirkwood Neighbors' Organization.
by Earl Williamson
The Kirkwood Neighbors Organization approved a motion for censure of Copwatch by a vote of 63 for, 1 against and 6 abstentions. This was based on the Atlanta Police Department's evening shift supervisor's description of issues they had been experiencing with Copwatch and the following episodes:
- Following a reported APD officer beating of a suspect in the Edgewood Courts, the Copwatch kids armed the Edgewood courts kids with bricks and rocks and then Copwatch called the police. This was reported by an Edgewood community leader.
- Following the armed robbery and shooting of a Kirkwood resident in Gilliam Park last week a rapid APD response included tracking dogs that followed suspect scent directly towards Edgewood Courts. During tracking, Copwatch individuals walked back and forth in the path of the tracking dogs in a suspected effort to obscure suspect scent. Reported by APD command.
- Of 25 descriptions of APD officer behavior on Copwatch's website, 12 are in or immediately adjacent to Edgewood Courts. That means 48 percent of Copwatch activity relative to APD, centers on Edgewood Courts and strongly suggests a loss of objectivity as well as a seeming favoritism to criminal elements operating there. This is based on data from the Copwatch website.
— Mr.Williamson, a resident of Kirkwood, is chairman of Neighborhood Planning Unit-O, which advocates for the interests of the Kirkwood, East Lake, the Villages of East Lake and Edgewood communities.