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Sanford Police Chief Clarifies Position on Neighborhood Watch

November 5th, 2013 | WMFE- Sanford police chief Cecil Smith says the city's revamped neighborhood watch program won't infringe second amendment rights. The revamp follows the fatal shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman last year.

In a press conference this afternoon, Smith stressed that the program was never intended to have volunteers patrol with a firearm.

But Smith also apologized for confusion over comments he made last week, and said the program isn't designed to take away people's second amendment rights.

"I want people to understand we aren’t going out and patting people down and going into their homes along those lines with neighborhood watch."

Smith said volunteers will be trained not to take law enforcement into their own hands.

"You're going to the grocery store, you're a neighborhood watch volunteer, you have a gun on, you see an offense take place, your responsiblity should be to pick up the telephone and be the best witness for the police officers," said Smith.

"Wait for the police officers to get there, do not take any law enforcement action."

He said block captains will also sign a “hold harmless” agreement releasing the city from liability if they act outside the neighborhood watch guidelines.

The revamped program will be discussed at a community meeting tonight.


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