The city of Sanford, Fla., is now prohibiting its civilian neighborhood-watch team from carrying firearms on patrol, following the 2012 incident in which then-neighborhood-watch leader George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, Yahoo! News reports.
This change of rules is aimed at preventing another such incident — which shook the state and the entire nation — from happening again. The neighborhood-watch program also hopes to repair its damaged reputation, Yahoo! News notes.
Under the new rules, members of the neighborhood-watch team are also explicitly forbidden from pursuing someone they find “suspicious.” The groups will also have to “undergo training, register members with the police department and regularly update their status with the department.” Any member who is found in violation of any of the new rules will be removed from the program, though the member will not be charged with a crime.
“Neighborhood watch was always intended to be a program where you observe what is going on and report it to police. 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,” said Shannon Cordingly, spokeswoman for the Sanford Police Department, according to the news site.
In February 2012, in spite of being told by police to stand down, Zimmerman pursued Trayvon for being “suspicious.” This led to an altercation, in which Zimmerman drew his gun and fatally shot the teenager in the chest. This year Zimmerman was acquitted by a jury.
“People in the community are nervous to join a group (neighborhood watch) that was tarnished in the media and got a bad image with everything that happened. We really want to put those fears to rest and get the community going on the program,” Cordingly said.
Read more at Yahoo! News.