Sanford, Florida Police Department bans Neighborhood Watch members from carrying permitted concealed handguns
The Florida city where neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin is changing the rules on how civilian patrols can operate to help prevent a recurrence and revive the program's reputation.
The new rules, to be released at a community meeting on November 5 in Sanford, Florida, will state explicitly that residents acting under the authority of neighborhood watch may not carry a firearm or pursue someone they deem suspicious.
"Neighborhood watch was always intended to be a program where you observe what is going on and report it to police. In light of everything that has gone on, that's what we're really going to go back and push. That's what this program is and that's all it is," said Shannon Cordingly, spokeswoman for the Sanford Police Department. . . .Andrew Branca has a useful discussion available here about the myth that Zimmerman "chased/followed" after Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman did not exit the vehicle until he was asked by the dispatcher which way Martin was running. Because Martin had run around the corner of a building and was now out of sight, Zimmerman exited the vehicle in order to be able to observe where Martin had gone.Channel 13 in central Florida has this:
So, not only is it untrue that Zimmerman “chased/followed” Martin contrary to police instructions, he was in fact seeking to obtain information explicitly requested by the dispatcher. . . .
Sanford's new police chief, Cecil Smith, said the neighborhood watch program as it was operated while Zimmerman was part of it was dysfunctional and had no accountability.
"In this program, it is clearly stated that you will not pursue an individual," Smith explained. "In this new program, it clearly indicates that you will not carry a firearm when performing your duties as a neighborhood watch captain or participant."
Smith said when he took over as Sanford's chief of police in April, the neighborhood watch program Zimmerman was part of was still operating the same way it was when he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin more than a year earlier.
Though Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder in July, Smith said the program needed to be re-evaluated, so he stopped it completely until changes could be implemented. . . . .How do these changes increase accountability?
What do you think banning Neighborhood Watch members from being able to carry is going to do to their willingness to patrol dangerous areas? Remember how long it took for the police to arrive on the scene after Martin attacked Zimmerman? Might this be just another example of how political correctness endangers people's lives?
This decision appears to be politically motivated, much like the discussion at the Senate hearing last Tuesday, and that these political decisions will harm safety and make people less inclined to join neighborhood watches. People can still walk their neighborhoods carrying their permitted concealed handguns as long as they aren't members of the Neighborhood Watch, but this new policy will simply mean that they can't have as close of contact with the police as they have had in the past. Is that really a step forward?
UPDATE: Andrew Branca also has another post on the new Sanford, Florida policy over at Legal Insurrection.
Labels: george zimmerman