When I began the 59th class of the Greensboro Police Department's Police Basic Introductory Course one of the first items for our instructors to cover was a group of "regulars" that were known to officers. These regulars were people that hated officers, loved officers, tried to love on officers, were ones who hung around downtown at all hours of the day and night and usually not having our best interests at heart. Pictures of these folks were posted on our classroom wall and descriptions of each individual person's behavior was covered with the warning that they could pick up on who the newer or younger officers were and that we would, not could be preyed upon. Many of those folks have disappeared in the past 30 years and the "new" ones don't congregate around the PD anymore as we have become more spread throughout the city instead of being in one building together as when I started.
The "regulars" have changed some as well. Technology has enabled these folks with agendas not favoring police officers to take advantage of officers while attempting to perform duties of their office and record one sided interpretations of events with little or no regard for telling the truth. Just as sensationalized journalism is influencing citizens with no energy or desire to investigate for themselves, these video presentations are being posted on social media and even sold to TV stations who then sells it to the public as demonstrations of actual events. What they are in reality are attempts to slander and attack officers by sneaking up and initiating confrontations. They prey on younger patrol officers who they catch off guard and verbally assail while that officer is handling another call or traffic stop so that they can get the upper hand while that officer is preoccupied. They never depict what the aggressor does prior to the officer reacting. Every one I have seen involves "jail house" law interpretations where they adamantly insist that the law says one thing when in fact it does not. Their actions are loud and intimidating and designed to catch the officer in a moment of confusion as he tries to deal with the suspect he has initiated contact with as well as the sneak attack from behind him. These encounters have become increasingly popular as the fad of police bashing has recently increased coupled with weak city government officials and their fear of not getting re-elected if they do not appease these despicable people.
I do not know if our PBIC instructors still issue these warnings or if someone has convinced the city that we somehow are violating these pieces of feces civil rights by identifying them and should therefore violate our officer's rights by compromising officer safety in the name of city official's political survival. As a citizen with his own set of civil rights and the guarantee of free speech through the United States Constitution, I consider it my duty to inform my fellow retirees, my colleagues still serving at the Greensboro Police Department and the good citizens of Greensboro that are tired of being subjected to the crap that these antagonistic opportunists seem to hold the city hostage with. These folks have absolutely no problem publishing and disseminating their opinions and actions publicly so they have opened themselves up for critiquing. Most politicians are afraid to do so because they do not want to become a target. By practicing appeasement they empower and enable these people giving them far more credibility than they deserve. They have a right to express their opinions; but the rest of us have the right to dismiss those opinions and not legitimize efforts to destroy the criminal justice system simply because they as an extremely small segment of the population don't like it.
Which brings me to the local "Cop Block" guy, Brian Watkins. Mr. Watkins is a "police stalker" that records and posts videos on You Tube under the name "Preview". His shtick is to approach officers that are conducting vehicle stops or circle a location repeatedly while officers are engaged on calls with other citizens. On stops he will start videoing an officer while aggressively approaching him and asking him questions. On one video he assails a NC Highway Patrolman with another male subject accusing the Trooper of making an unlawful stop because the gas station parking lot the car pulled into was private property; as stupid as the old "you can't write me a ticket because you're not wearing your hat" adage. It obviously catches the young Trooper off guard as only an idiot would rush an officer while he was conducting a stop or investigation. The Trooper conducts himself in my opinion in a professional manner but the aggressiveness of the encounter causes a moment of confusion making the Trooper hesitate in a way that suggests he is making sure he hasn't done anything wrong. This is repeated on several videos he has posted. On one where he was apparently circling an officer in a suspicious manner he successfully peaked the officer's awareness to the point that the officer correctly decided that he should attempt to identify this person. Mr. Watkins drove slowly enough for the officer to see where he was stopping and when the officer approached he was aggressively assailed verbally by Mr. Watkins and another male. You can find these videos on You Tube and decide his intentions for yourself by titles that include "False Arrest by Guilford Deputy", "Lying Cop" (SHP story) or "Police Interview by JR Vail".
The incident that prompted this article was one where two female Greensboro Police Officers were conducting a traffic stop of a careless and reckless driver that turned out to be an impaired driver as well. Mr. Watkins aggressively began to video the stop and was told in a professional and appropriate manner to move back from the officer's investigative space. He refused and was charged with Interfering with an Officer during Performance of his/her Duties, NCGS 14-223. He complained about being charged resulting in discipline for the two officers and his charges dropped. No apparent misconduct by the officers was recorded. Are you kidding me? This guy has a documented and published history of assailing and attacking officers and we are legitimizing him by appeasing and sacrificing the work record of two officers and letting him off the hook? No wonder he feels empowered. Appeasement achieves NOTHING!!
Mr. Watkins apparently feels so empowered that he even has a podcast (also on You Tube) where he is being interviewed by someone that calls himself "Doc Sinn" and is portrayed as some sort of expert in Police Brutality. The podcast is Mr. Watkins describing how to complain on officers and encouraging people to resist and verbally question authority. He gives wrong interpretations of laws and criminal procedures and basically seems to be rallying citizens to not obey officers. At the end of the podcast he gives instructions on what to do if you want to complain on police officers in Greensboro. His advice and I quote is to call "the Beloved Community Center and ask for Nelson Johnson"; recognize that name and agenda?
Why is Mr. Watkins so angry with the Police? A good place to find that answer would be this website; sexoffender.ncdoj.gov. Type in Brian Watkins' name and the city Greensboro and decide for yourself. My opinion is that we should charge him every time he disobeys a warning to remove himself from a crime or investigative scene. We should familiarize our officers with his face and address which can be done through the aforementioned public record website and instruct them to immediately call for assistance when he shows up. Our city leaders need to stand up to him, discredit him and not allow he and other opportunistic antagonists to hold the city hostage any longer. It has been going on far too long. City leaders need to stop being accommodating to this individual; and if they can't find the guts to stand up to him and put an end to his constant abuse of city employees and officers, we should find someone else that will.