MYTH #1 – It is against the law for a neighborhood watch member to be armed while on duty. ***FALSE***
ANSWER: There are no statutes or administrative code that governs neighborhood watch. The only Florida statutes that mention neighborhood watch specifically are:
2. §30.06 [ http://www.flsenate.gov/laws/
3. §166.0485 [ http://www.flsenate.gov/laws/
4. §843.20 [ http://www.flsenate.gov/laws/
Nowhere in the above statutes listed in 1-4 does it mention anything about weapons or firearms and the prohibition of carrying for the purpose of lawful self-defense.
5. §790.06(15) [ http://www.flsenate.gov/laws/
6. §790.33 [ http://www.flsenate.gov/laws/
7. §790.06(12)(a) [ http://www.flsenate.gov/laws/
8. §790.25 [ http://www.flsenate.gov/laws/
Again, nowhere in these statutes that I’ve listed in 5-8 mentions that concealed carry during the duty of a neighborhood crime watch volunteer is prohibited. Furthermore, these statutes specifically state that a neither the county, municipality nor any political subdivision of the state OTHER THAN the state legislature can FURTHER regulate concealed carry, possession and use of firearms! Therefore, as the state’s witness for the Sanford PD (SPD) volunteer coordinator stated on the stand, and I paraphrase, “…When that topic [armed] comes up, which it does a lot, we do not even answer that question because it is not within our area of jurisdiction. We do preach not to confront the subjects or enter a suspicious scene. They [neighborhood watch volunteers] are our eyes and ears. … .”
MYTH #2 – When a non-emergency call taker, 911 operator or dispatch gives an instruction over the phone, you MUST follow that order. ***FALSE***
ANSWER: Having been a 911 Operator for a sheriff’s office here in Florida, this statement is completely false! The state’s witness 911 Operator even said on the stand, and I paraphrase, “…We always say that. … .” There is absolutely no statute or administrative code that stipulates that if an operator says something to you on the phone, you don’t follow it exactly or at all, then you will face criminal proceedings for not carrying out the order or instructions. The only time you have a potential criminal liability is if you do not follow and order or instruction if IN THE PRESENCE OF a law enforcement officer (LEO) directs you to assist him or comply with an order and you countermand said directive. Also, if you are following someone while on the phone with the police, you violate traffic laws and you are witnessed by the police in doing so, you will most likely get a ticket or worse depending upon the severity of the traffic infraction. These are just two examples as there are many more possibly scenarios. The distinction needs to be made that the criminal liability would occur when IN THE PRESENCE of a LEO and not based upon any instructions a police operator would give over the phone.
Now the exact phrase in question was:
Operator: “Are you following him?”
Operator: “OK, we don’t need you to do that.”
And immediately following that exchange, Zimmerman actually had already lost sight of Treyvon Martin and was starting the exchange of information with the operator about where to meet the responding LEO’s. At this time, Zimmerman was behind the two rows of townhomes at the now infamous ‘T’. This is substantiated by both Zimmerman’s interview by SPD and his video reenactment; both of which were proffered by the state.