Copwatch

Formed in Berkeley in 1990, Copwatch organizes community activists to monitor local police activity with video cameras or cell phones, exposing episodes of misconduct, and educates citizens about how to protect themselves and their rights when interacting with the police. Documentary maker Camilla Hall collects tense footage recorded by cop watchers as officers on the scene continually try to move them back, but she offers little detail about how this nationwide network operates. Instead she looks at the phenomenon of monitoring the police more broadly, revisiting the controversial killings of Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Freddie Gray, and presents profiles of the random individuals who captured some of those deaths on video (in some cases, paying a personal price for it afterward). Their personal concerns fill the movie out to feature length but add little to the complicated debate over reforming police tactics.