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New ordinance aims to aid law enforcement

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TUCSON - After increasing videos of Tucson "cop watchers" have hit the web, a new ordinance has now gone into effect allowing police officers to set up a police line preventing citizens from getting too close.

Failure to do so could result in an arrest for a class two misdemeanor which carries a fine of up to $750 in fines and up to four months in jail.

The people behind these videos say they're doing it for the public good and that nothing they do is actually illegal.

Tucson police Chief Chris Magnus said an officer in one video had pulled over robbery suspects when the group of people with cameras showed up.

"She was trying to deal with four potentially armed and dangerous individuals and she has this group approaching coming right up to the car, getting in her face, screaming horrible, misogynistic comments that are trying to be provocative," said Magnus.

The people filming these videos say they never go into the crime scenes and only react when the officers approach them because they say raising their voice keeps them from being arrested.

"It's really just free speech, he's allowed to say that, the supreme court has already ruled. I know some people might find it obnoxious and rude but there's nothing illegal about it," said Lorraine Hendricks, Youtube cop watcher.

Ward six council member Steve Kozachik says the ordinance is designed to help police officers safely do their job.

"This is a public safety issue, it's not a constitutional speech issue, the guy can stand outside of the line and yell all the profanity that he wants to. He does not have the right to put other people's lives at risk by interfering with the investigation, that's what the ordinance is about," said Kozachik.

One of the Youtube account owners has been arrested at least 17 times but says the charges have been dropped each time.

The group says they do this to hold the police and government accountable.

"We're there to put the camera on them and light up the situation and that's it, they're the ones that escalate," said Mark Brown, Youtube cop watcher.

The group listens to scanners to find out where the cops are going and says that if they were never approached this would never happen.

"The point is that the officer has a right in the interest of public safety, the officers safety, the suspects safety, the publics safety to set up a line beyond which people can not come where they are legitimately interfering with an investigation," said Kozachik.

The group also denies that they make money from posting their videos and say this new ordinance will not stop them from watching cops.

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Mark Mingura

Mark Mingura joined KVOA as a Multi Media Journalist in October 2019. Originally from the valley and with ties to Tucson, Mark is excited to get back to his home state and tell the stories of the Old Pueblo.

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