Sanford to change neighborhood watch policy

Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith makes changes in the Neighborhood Watch program.
Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith makes changes in the Neighborhood Watch program.

Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith is revamping the Neighborhood Watch program and held a meeting last night to ask residents to get involved. Changes include background checks for neighborhood watch captains, required training and communication with the police department.

There were talks to ban volunteers from carrying guns, but that proposal was scrapped for fear that it would infringe upon second amendment rights.

Smith said Tuesday he’s only recommending against neighborhood watch volunteers carrying guns.

“Neighborhood watch is not about someone carrying a firearm and going out and approaching someone,” Smith said. “We are adamant you should not approach an individual, you should not follow an individual.”

Smith didn’t reference the George Zimmerman case directly, but he did question the overall organization of the various neighborhood watch programs when he first arrived.

“We’re trying to make something completely different from a mess,” Smith said.

“If they’re licensed to carry, they’re licensed to carry and that should not be restricted,” the founder of  the Well Armed Woman said.

The chief agreed.

“We’re not asking anyone to take their second amendment, or their concealed weapons rights away from them,” Smith said.

“If someone wants to carry a firearm that’s their prerogative,” said Wanda Chandler, a neighborhood watch volunteer. “They have to have a permit of course. I’ve been doing this seven years and never felt the need.”

Smith still insists vigilance and a cellphone are the best crime-fighting weapons.

“If you see something, hear something, say something, call us and let us do the job we’re paid for,” he said.

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.