Imperial Beach Copwatch – Something Different

by on October 7, 2022 · 6 comments

in Civil Rights, San Diego

By Terrie Best

Marcus Boyd started Imperial Beach Copwatch with the intention of watching cops do their jobs. The purpose was to minimize aggressive behavior and thereby keep Imperial Beach’s streets safer. Since then he’s uploaded multiple videos, garnered media attention and is finalizing a tracking app for cop watchers everywhere.

He has also gathered support from the IB city council and city manager and is in a position to change the way IB polices their citizens.

Boyd has been a longtime IB resident and business owner. For decades he has immersed himself in local politics, volunteered at his child’s school, served on task forces and ran ballot measures. All to improve his community.

After being assaulted at a Black Lives Matter rally commemorating the one year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, Boyd focused on policing. He did not like the cavalier manner in which the sheriffs responded to assaults at the protests, so he brought that to the city’s attention.  He felt IB deserved better and he began to delve into the policing contract the city has with the San Diego County Sheriff’s office.

In the meantime, the easiest target for Boyd was to immediately take issue with the sheriffs displaying the Thin Blue Line symbol on their vehicles and uniforms.  Boyd, a Navy veteran, knew commandeering and altering the American flag was poor form and probably against regulations. He didn’t like the racist gang connotations the emblem suggested and he was instrumental in the city of IB requesting the altered flag image not be displayed by the sheriffs within its limits.

At the same time Boyd was working on the blue line flag problem, the city was forming an ad hoc committee to review the sheriff’s contract in consideration of a 5-year renewal. Boyd noted that for the first time in the history of Imperial Beach’s ad hoc committee practices this was the first one ever conducted by persons of color. Unfortunately, Boyd says also for the first time ever the ad hoc committee recommendations were ignored and never put on the council agenda. The Mayor of IB controls the agenda.

Following five community meetings which included paid consultants, the ad hoc committee produced a list of six recommendations.  The committee considered the first recommendation to be imperative: Keep the ad hoc committee in place in the months and years ahead.

In response to the one year anniversary of the ad hoc committee recommendations being ignored Boyd started CopWatch – Imperial Beach. The street filmers are mostly white women who’ve been able to push the envelope where Boyd, who is Black has not.

The filmers wear high visibility vests bearing the CopWatch IB logo and Boyd uses a camera rig he says proudly has earned the name “The Intimidator” based on the reactions of the deputies when they see it.  Boyd is looking for the kind of reaction IB deserves, polite professionalism and that’s mostly what the intimidator gets. As he likes to say to officers “the videos are nothing without your violence. Don’t be violent, don’t get video clicks.”

Boyd had originally used his cellphone to film police, so when he started CopWatch – Imperial Beach he already had several years of videos to release. The CopWatch videos were initially put on an Imperial Beach community Facebook page to inform locals of the problems with policing on IB streets.  Then after amassing 1,000 members on the Facebook page Boyd focused on YouTube to gain a wider ‘viral ready’ audience. YouTube is the most used platform for the cop watch genre.

Next, watching other cop watchers prompted Boyd to use his database development skills to create a nationwide sworn law enforcement officer tracking app.  With so many tyrant officers being exposed locally and across the country, Boyd saw a need to catalog and centralize violent police incidents across the nation so they can be digested and linked for consistency.

The wiki-like app tracks officers’ public-facing information, user reviews, and it links to social media interactions, media hits and lawsuits, as well as following bad officers through their careers when they transfer to other agencies.  This feature is one Boyd finds most helpful as currently officers who are facing discipline in one or multiple law enforcement agencies can move around without facing consequences or sometimes even losing pensions. The public is entitled to know this and that’s what the app aims to do.

One Imperial Beach deputy who left the department after clearly using excessive force on a detained suspect has already been tracked by Boyd’s app to a police department in Wyoming.

The app is in final development.

In another Imperial Beach incident which highlights the need to track bad officers, a San Diego sheriff deputy (Fickett) bullied a woman cop watcher which prompted Boyd to add the deputy to the tracking app.  That’s when he discovered that Fickett was already a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit.

The suit involves five deputies accused of unnecessarily tasing a Black man who had been called to a DUI checkpoint to retrieve his son.  The police Tased the father and the man’s lighter caught fire in his trouser pocket, setting him afire and burning him severely. These violent incidents and law suits against officer violence look bad on record and if brought up in court in other cases could follow the officer and impeach them in court for the duration of their careers. If an officer can not testify in court because his bad behavior comes up, he is ineffective as a cop.

Sheriff’s deputies in Imperial Beach do not like or appreciate Boyd’s service.  Some have shown an unhealthy level of disdain and in June Boyd was assaulted by an officer while cop watching. When he asked for a sheriff supervisor he was  jailed, by that supervisor, an Imperial Beach station sergeant (Munsch).  The charge was felony resisting (PC 69).

Boyd’s case was never submitted to the District Attorney’s office and charges were never filed against him with the court. However Boyd had to pay a bond to bail out and was forced to provide a DNA sample to be released. He describes the holding cells as inhumane and cruel and unusual punishment.

Ironically, as Boyd was being assaulted by the cops he and the city of IB staffers had a meeting scheduled with the lieutenant commanding the IB station about the increased aggressiveness of deputies.

The day after Boyd’s arrest the meeting was promptly canceled by the sheriff’s office. The sheriff’s Lieutenant cited the arrest as a conflict of interest. However, the city insisted on going forward and the meeting was rescheduled with the lieutenant. Also in attendance was the lieutenant’s boss Brian Nevins, PR staff Matthew Glisson, Edith Sanchez Cruz along with Councilmember Paloma Aguirre, City Manager Andy Hall, and Assistant City Manager Erika Cortez.

Meanwhile Boyd sought a civil rights attorney for the assault he suffered at the hands of the angry deputy. Again, the lieutenant attempted to end the meetings citing the pending lawsuit and again the city insisted on the meeting.

Boyd says he and the city did meet a second time with the lieutenant but without the command staff present the lieutenant took that opportunity to take on a defiant nature.

Last month Cop Watch Imperial Beach released their first jingle called “All The Elements,” “to teach law enforcement officers who visit IB CopWatch channels about the five elements of the First Amendment” Boyd says.

By making the sheriff contract with the city central to his efforts, Boyd has been able to find leverage. The sheriff contracts with multiple cities to provide law enforcement services and a sudden examination of those contracts with an eye to building in accountability is just one tactic in the arsenal for San Diego cities to have more power over the sheriff.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Judith Best October 9, 2022 at 4:32 pm

What a great tribute to Marcus Boyd, an activist who deserves the acknowledgment. I’m so impressed by his foresight & talent to create an app to track abusive law enforcement. His ingenuity in creating the intimidator is ingenious. It’s truly amazing to read about his accomplishments. We’re told if a person doesn’t have anything to hide, they shouldn’t mind being observed. Marcus is right in expecting the same expectation of law enforcement. Thank you, Terrie, for this very fine portrayal Marcus’s contributions. Judith Best


Terrie Best October 10, 2022 at 8:42 am

I am so pleased with your comment because what you describe is exactly what the article was intended to do. Thank you for your support.


Jack Riordan October 11, 2022 at 11:25 am

Thanks for shining light on this effort! Transparency in law enforcement would only build public trust in our institutions while discouraging bad actors from seeking refuge in that line of work. It would make us all safer civilians AND the cops safer. There is no logical argument against this.


Terrie Best October 11, 2022 at 1:37 pm

Agree! Thanks for reading!


sealintheselkirks October 22, 2022 at 1:30 am

Transparency will only do so much. New training has shown just how ineffective that is so neither are worth mentioning. Due to institutionalized hiring practices and the lack of psychological screening to weed out the ones who want to be the ‘warrior cop’ rather than a civil servant accountable to the public that pays their salaries.

I think four things need to happen.

1) A higher level of in-depth psychological screening. Whittle the so-called ‘bad’ cops and ‘warrior types’ the hell out before they get handed a gun after 16 weeks of training. Hell, it takes a year or more of training to get a hairdresser’s license, and used to take about 6 years to get a martial arts Black Belt. Four months is ridiculous.

2) End so-called ‘qualified’ immunity. That is a disgusting misnomer. Every dictatorship I’ve ever read about had the same thing for their enforcers and assassins. If the average citizen is required to take responsibility for our actions, a man/woman with the gun should have a far higher set of requirements to live up to than the average Joe Blow.

3) Require every single cop to carry an insurance policy like doctor malpractice. Nobody should be allowed to be a cop without being bonded & insured just like the contractor fixing your house roof or the plumber or the electrician. You wouldn’t want your dog to be cared for by an uninsured veterinarian without it, yes?

4) Absolute civilian oversight boards with funded enforcement & investigative powers not connected to the local DAs or ‘Internal Affairs’ Departments which are, after all, a serious conflict of interest. Cops should not be investigating cops.

There have been documented instances of cop watchers/video makers being forced to leave the country due to the levels of harassment and violence directed at them and their families in this country. And there is nobody to turn to, to ask for help, because when it comes down to it they are all on their own side not ours. I have no idea how they can expect to build any kind of ‘public trust’ to be honest. I think they went past that point a long time ago…



Terrie Best October 22, 2022 at 6:07 am

Marry me! Just kidding, but great comments. Thank you!


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