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.