Sanford overhauling how neighborhood watch groups are run



SANFORD, Fla. - Nearly three months after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, Sanford communities are now looking into overhauling their neighborhood watch programs.

Channel 9's Karla Ray found Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith has been working on the changes for months, saying he wants all groups in the city to run under the same set of guidelines.

Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer in February 2012 when he shot and killed Martin, who was unarmed.

Smith said Tuesday he plans to meet with volunteers and community leaders next week to launch the first citywide system for all neighborhood watch groups.

Officials said the handbook for the program is still being reviewed by the city attorney, but Channel 9 found it has a provision that will prevent anyone from carrying a gun while working as a neighborhood watch volunteer.

Smith said the goal is to get the community involved in keeping the city safe and keeping an open line of communication between those who watch over their neighborhoods and the police departments that protect it.