On November 5, Sanford, Florida Police Chief Cecil Smith told a crowd gathered at City Hall that the police department recommends that no neighborhood watch volunteers be armed from this point forward.
The change is in response to the February 2012 incident in which neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Smith said those who take part in the police department’s watch group, Citizens on Patrol, will be banned from carrying firearms even if they have a concealed carry permit. He wants these volunteers to focus on “communication not confrontation.”
As for neighborhood watch patrols which are not part of the police department’s watch group, Smith said the police are not requiring them to leave their guns at home but they are strongly recommending it.
He also asked that neighborhood watch patrols not pursue suspicious persons. “Do not intercede or pursue,” he said. Rather, they are to serve as “communication vessels” that report suspicious activity to the police.
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