In several episodes over recent months, Arlington police officers have been forced to flee the scene of a crime as cop watchers arrived with cameras, members of the Tarrant County Peaceful Streets Project and Texas Cop Block who parked nearby, recording officers from a public space, leading officers to stop what they were doing.

In one recent incident, the Dallas Observer’s Sky Chadde was on hand to report:

“At a recent cop watch, I was in the car when we pulled up to one traffic stop. The man was on the ground with had his hands behind his back. As soon as cop-watcher Joseph Tye got out of his car, the two officers let the man go. He got in his truck and drove away, and so did the officers.”

Chadde’s report begs the question – if officers are fleeing the crime scene when concerned citizens arrive with cameras, then who exactly is committing the crime?

In recent weeks, Arlington police began employing tactics designed to obstruct their  view, including using six or more officers to form a human wall around a traffic stop and ordering observers to stay at a distance or face arrest.

But when that did nothing to deter the cop blockers, they resorted to making arrests, jailing three citizens with cameras Saturday night.

Joseph Tye was arrested for standing in a parking lot and recording police officers from the same distance he has been recording from for weeks. Two other observers, Kory Watkins and his wife, were walking down the sidewalk when Watkins’ wife was nearly hit by a police car pulling into the lot. Watkins yelled at the officer who nearly hit his wife, and Watkins and his wife were both arrested.

All three of the observers were reportedly charged with interfering with police duty and obstructing a highway, and Arlington police confiscated their cell phones and cameras. While the police could easily copy any material from the devices and return them, they are instead being held as “evidence.”

However, they apparently did not confiscate all cameras because we two videos of the arrests were posted, which you can see above and below.

“They probably did that to kill our cop watch,” said Jacob Cordova, another citizen observer who present at the scene of the arrest.

To contact the Arlington Police Department, call (817) 459-5700.


For news tips on aerial photography and drones, contact Andrew Meyer, PINAC’s staff writer covering UAV photography, the First Amendment, and more. Follow him on twitter @theandrewmeyer.