Citizens can video police in Atlanta

Ride your bicycle, have to show a drivers’ license, get your camera stolen by police? Not in Atlanta any longer!

Bill Rankin writes some good news in the AJC, APD won’t hinder citizens who videotape cops,

Faced with complaints from a citizen watchdog group, Atlanta police will stop interfering with people who videotape officers performing their duties in public, an agreement reached with the city Thursday says.

The settlement, which also calls for the city to pay $40,000 in damages, requires city council approval.

The agreement resolves a complaint filed by Marlon Kautz and Copwatch of East Atlanta, a group that films police activity with cell phones and hand-held cameras. The group has volunteers who go out on patrols and begin videotaping police activity when they come across it.

That’s Copwatch of East Atlanta; here’s their press release, including video of the incident. Seems the cop said riding around on bicycles is suspicious. He wanted to check their drivers’ licences. And he really didn’t like anybody videoing that.

So the bicyclists, who were with Copwatch East Atlanta, filed a complaint:

The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) is a private organization which has positioned itself as a certification body for local police departments. In the past, the Atlanta Police Department has sought and received CALEA Accreditation. Now, the APD is up for review, and CALEA is seeking comments from the public on their practices.

Some CALEA standards include:

“Strengthen an agency’s accountability, both within the agency and the community, through a continuum of standards that clearly define authority, performance, and responsibilities.”

As Marlon Kautz says:

“Police accountability is really an important issue to a lot of people right now.”

The result of this complaint by a citizens’ watchdog group:

“Commanders have made it clear that Atlanta police officers in the field should not interfere with a citizen’s right to film them while they work in public areas,” said APD spokesman Carlos Campos.
The Atlanta City Council still has to vote for the settlement, which includes:
They will also have to pay $40,000, which Copwatch will use to fund their work as well as supporting other groups in Atlanta who seek to monitor the police.
A victory for transparency!


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