Run by volunteers, the Twitter account allows residents to keep track of and observe police, ensuring officers have a constant audience that holds them liable for their actions in confrontations.
— D.T.E.S. COP WATCH (@VanCopWATCH) February 7, 2013
Vancouver cops, though, are not fans of the Twitter account. Social media spokeswoman Constable Anne Longley calls it a safety concern.
She told the Province:
We don’t want people to be hesitant to call police, thinking their location or information is going to be put out on Twitter.
Cop Watch DTES volunteer Jen Allan disagrees. She is one of three people with administrative access to the account.
The purpose is to take people on a live experience of a cop watch patrol. The whole goal is to hold police accountable, expose brutality and advocate on behalf of others.
She added that Cop Watch would stop tweeting police officers’ locations “when they stop beating and abusing members of the DTES”.
All in Lower Mainland are invited to Cop Watch's March 15th event called: Uprising & Marching Against Systemic Police Violence in Vancouver
— D.T.E.S. COP WATCH (@VanCopWATCH) February 26, 2013
The neighbourhood, called Canada’s “poorest postal code”, is well-known for its high rate of drug use, prostitution, poverty and violence.
It comprises the Chinatown, Gastown, Oppenheimer Park, Thornton Park and Victory Square districts.