The Florida city where George Zimmerman shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin to death has announced it will ban neighborhood watch members from carrying guns, The Orlando Sentinel reports (via Business Insider).
Zimmerman, who just months ago was acquitted of Martin’s murder, was on Neighborhood Watch duty when the incident occurred.
The ban on guns in Sanford, Fla. and other changes, including formal training and volunteer registration, will be announced at a meeting Nov. 5 at City Hall. Also, residents acting in a neighborhood watch role are also not to follow someone they deem suspicious, according to MSN News.
“Neighborhood watch was always intended to be a program where you observe what is going on and report it to police,” Shannon Cordingly, spokeswoman for the Sanford Police Department, told MSN. “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.”
Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith has been critical of George Zimmerman for following Martin.
“We’ve seen this happen already, where an individual was declaring that under the auspice of neighborhood watch, he was performing a duty that he wasn’t,” Smith told News 13. “There was really no accountability. There was no true recognition. There were concerns with regards to training.”
According to a police spokeswoman, neighborhood watch members who violate the new rules would face removal from the program, but would not be charged with any crime.
Does your community have a neighborhood watch program? Please share your thoughts or experiences in the comments.