Santa Cruz Copwatch

From its inception as a tactic in maintaining slavery to its current role in the repression of political movements and marginalized people, the very institution of policing is being challenged like never before.

Call Santa Cruz Copwatch if you are witnessing police harassment at (831) 217-3442

Call YARR if you see ICE agents in our community at (831) 239-4289

Our Mission

To Reduce Police Violence Through Accountability​

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To Empower And Unite The Community By Looking Out For Each Other

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How to Get Involved

We are a group of community residents and students who have become outraged by the escalation of police misconduct, harassment and brutality in recent years. We have joined together to fight for our rights and the rights of our community by taking on the task of directly monitoring police conduct.

Copwatch Training

Join our workshop created to quickly train the average person in basic cop watching laws, methods and safety considerations, and promote cop watching as a method of bystander intervention.

People's Database

The use of a database is crucial to moving the work of copwatch-type groups forward. We are less able to influence behavior with the mere presence of a recording device. We have to make good on our commitment to hold police accountable.

KNow Your Rights

You have the right to be in a public place and to observe police activity.

 Police can arrest someone they believe is “interfering” with their actions. Maintain a reasonable distance, and if cops threaten to arrest you, EXPLAIN THAT YOU DON’T INTEND TO INTERFERE, BUT YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO OBSERVE THEIR ACTIONS.

REMEMBER: You have legal rights, but many police will not respect your rights.

If the police arrest you:
  • You may be handcuffed, searched, photographed and fingerprinted.
  • Say repeatedly, “I DON’T WANT TO TALK UNTIL MY LAWYER IS PRESENT.” Even if your rights aren’t read, refuse to talk until your lawyer/public defender arrives.
  • Do not talk to inmates in jail about your case.
  • If you’re on probation/parole, tell your P.O. you’ve been arrested, but NOTHING ELSE.
If the police stop anyone:
  • Write down officers’ names, badge numbers, and car numbers. COPS MUST BE IDENTIFIED BY NAME OR BADGE NUMBER (PC sec. 830.10). 
  • Write down the time, date, and place of the incident and all details as soon as possible. 
  • Ask if the person is being arrested, and if so, on what charge. 
  • Get witnesses’ names and contact info. 
  • Try to get the arrestee’s name, but only if they already gave it to the police. 
  • Document any injuries as soon as possible. Photograph them and have a medical report describing details of the injuries.
If the police stop you:
  • Ask, “AM I FREE TO GO?” If not, you are being detained. If yes, walk away. 
  • Ask, “WHY ARE YOU DETAINING ME?” To stop you, the officer must have a “reasonable suspicion” to suspect your involvement in a specific crime (not just a guess or a stereotype). 
  • It is not a crime to be without ID. If you are being detained or issued a ticket, you may want to show ID to the cop because they can take you to the station to verify your identity. 
  • If a cop tries to search your car, your house, or your person say repeatedly that you DO NOT CONSENT TO THE SEARCH. If in a car, do not open your trunk or door – by doing so you consent to a search of your property and of yourself. If at home, step outside and lock your door behind you so cops have no reason to enter your house. Ask to see the warrant and check for proper address, judge’s signature, and what the warrant says the cops are searching for. Everything must be correct in a legal warrant. Otherwise, send the police away. 
  • The cops can do a “pat search” (search the exterior of one’s clothing for weapons) during a detention for “officer safety reasons.” They can’t go into your pockets or bags without your consent. If you are arrested, they can search you and your possessions in great detail. 
  • DO NOT RESIST PHYSICALLY. Use your words and keep your cool. If an officer violates your rights, don’t let them provoke you into striking back. Wait until you are out of custody then you can organize for justice.