Sanford Police Tell Neighborhood Watches to Stand Down

Sanford, Florida's new chief of police, Cecil Smith, has some tough words to share with the residents of Sanford, Florida -- not the criminal residents of Sanford, but the good neighbors who care enough to watch the criminals.

"In this program," said the offensively patronizing Smith, "it is clearly stated that you will not pursue an individual. In this new program, it clearly indicates that you will not carry a firearm when performing your duties as a neighborhood watch captain or participant."

One question that Smith appears not to have asked himself is who gives the police chief authority over a voluntary neighborhood watch program? Another is what gives him the right to disarm citizens who have the legal right to concealed carry -- more than 1.1 million in Florida alone?

And the final question is why would anyone willingly cooperate with a top-down, police-directed neighborhood watch program that treats him or her like a potential criminal?

In that Smith, an African American, got his job because community pressure forced out his white predecessor, it stands to reason that he would buy into the premises that led that "community" to demand life imprisonment for a transparently innocent neighborhood watch coordinator, George Zimmerman.

In fact, however, Zimmerman was not "performing his duties" when he spotted Trayvon Martin wandering idly in the rain. He was on his way to Target to go shopping.  He did not "pursue an individual." When asked, he tried to tell the police dispatcher in which direction Martin was running, stopped following him when requested, and was viciously attacked nonetheless.

Had Zimmerman not been armed, he might well now be dead or disabled. The incident proved the validity of the old saw, "When every second counts, the police are just minutes away."

The Sanford Police responded quickly that night but not quickly enough. If they had arrived just a minute sooner, they would likely have arrested Trayvon Martin for aggravated assault and tried the seventeen year-old as an adult. Instead, Martin remains imbedded in the minds of the willfully clueless as the iconic black child with the Skittles. Police Chief Smith, alas, seems to be among their number.

Jack Cashill's new book, "If I Had A Son: Race, Guns, and the Railroading of George Zimmerman," is available wherever you buy books.

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