It has been with great disappointment that I have watched the events of the week unfold on your editorial page. On Tuesday, you published a letter to the editor that made unsubstantiated and false accusations about illegal activities by the leaders of Copwatch, and included a very unbecoming and woefully inaccurate portrayal of the methods of Copwatch. While news media are not responsible for the opinions stated in letters, they must take responsibility for the factual content. You seem to have made no efforts to check those facts, since the allegations are maliciously untrue. (This is particularly surprising to me since I have submitted letters to the Daily Planet in the past, and the editor called me to verify the sources of the facts that I used.)
It was also distressing that the paper ran the letter as "author's name has been withheld from this letter for her safety." This insinuates that the author was fearful of retaliation from Copwatch.
Andrea Prichett, co-founder of Copwatch, wrote a response to the letter, and it ran in today's paper (Copwatch keeps a sober eye on justice 1/31/02). Much to our dismay the, editor took it upon herself to sign the letter "the author's name has been withheld from this letter for her safety concerns," instead of how it was actually signed "Andrea Prichett, Copwatch, Co-founder." Ms. Prichett never asked that her name be withheld and doing so further inflames a tense situation. This sensationalism is unethical and unacceptable.
Civilian oversight of law enforcement is an important tool to ensure that the police can effectively enforce the laws, while upholding the constitutional rights of every person. In order for civilian oversight to work, the activities of the police must be out in the open. That is why observing the police in the performance of their duties is an important step in preventing the abuse of power that is common at many police stations around the country.
We at Copwatch are very concerned that there is a misperception of the methods and intentions of Copwatch by the community and police. We would like to invite any and all who are interested in the methods and philosophy of Copwatch to attend the "Know
Your Rights" training on February 6, at 7pm at 2022 Blake Street. The event is free and open to the public.