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Confronting suspicious people not a neighborhood watch duty, police say

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 4:51 PM
Last updated Wednesday, March 28, 2012 2:33 AM
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Richard Williams knows his Neighborhood Watch duties don’t come with a sheriff’s badge or a car with flashing blue lights.



Meg Mirshak
Staff Writer
Twitter: @megmirshak
E-mail | 706-823-3228

As the organizer of the Pine Heights Neighborhood Watch, Williams’ responsibility is limited to staying alert of suspicious activity and reporting it to police dispatchers. The rest he leaves to the professionals.

“I’m just a citizen like everybody else. That’s what you’ve got to keep in mind,” Williams said. “You are not the police.”

Without taking dangerous situations into their own hands, ordinary residents in Pine Heights have helped authorities curb drug activity in the south Augusta blocks off Lumpkin Road near Mike Padgett Highway.

Williams said monitoring crime from afar was an important technique that Florida Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman forgot when he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, a teenager said to have been walking suspiciously and wearing a hoodie.

“That guy handled it exactly opposite the way he should have,” Williams said.

Richmond County Deputy Wendell Johnson, the coordinator of the county’s Neighborhood Watch programs, said that authorities depend on the extra sets of eyes and ears but that crime watch participants shouldn’t try to act as police. There’s not a problem with tracking where a suspicious person goes, but a watch volunteer should never get close enough to engage the person.
“Their job is to observe and report suspicious activity but never confront someone who they deem suspicious,” Johnson said.

Authorities do not recommend against crime watchers arming themselves, but said they should focus on being alert of suspicious people and vehicles and signs of crime such as barking dogs and broken glass, he said.

“Their safety is No. 1,” he said. “We don’t want anybody getting hurt because it is a voluntary position.”

Joe Mabery volunteers as a block captain for an association of nine subdivisions in west Augusta off Pleasant Home Road that coordinates a Neighborhood Watch. He checks on houses when residents leave town and investigates suspicious noises, sometimes carrying a 9 mm pistol, but adds that he would never initiate gunfire.

“Never, ever engage,” Mabery said. “It’s none of my business.”

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happychimer
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happychimer 03/27/12 - 06:20 pm
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Good story. CLAP CLAP CLAP!!

Good story. CLAP CLAP CLAP!!

happychimer
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happychimer 03/27/12 - 06:33 pm
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Meg you did a good job.You

Meg you did a good job.You gave good info.

GaStang22
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GaStang22 03/27/12 - 06:42 pm
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I agree Tots
Unpublished

I agree Tots

GaStang22
910
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GaStang22 03/27/12 - 06:48 pm
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Then why do you carry a gun?
Unpublished

Then why do you carry a gun? The media says he approached the teen. According to Zimmerman, he was just watching him as he was calling 911 to help keep track of him because the burglars always get away, then the kid started approaching him, then decided to take off running (its on the tape). Yes he said he was following him to keep track of him for the cops, they told him not to follow...and there is not mention of if he stopped then or not. He says he lost the kid anyway, so he went back to his truck when the kid approached him at his truck and attacked him, then he used the gun to protest himself. Not saying his story is true, that will be played out in court, but that's his story.

What's the difference in what people in the article said? You watch them from afar and call the cops, have you not ever tried to see where they are going, from a distance to help the police catch them? Isn't the reason you carry a gun, just in case you are put in jeopardy while doing so and/or to protect someone else who may be attacked?

The only ones who say he engaged the teen were not there. I see nothing wrong with keeping an eye on a criminal from a distance if you can. Had he just committed a rape or murder.....Zimmerman would be a hero for trying to keep him in sight. Even deputy Johnson said "There’s not a problem with tracking where a suspicious person travels, but the crime watch volunteer should never get close enough to engage the person." That is exactly what Zimmerman said he did. If Zimmerman did chase him down and confront him he should be punished!!! If his story is true, he should not. What innocent person, especially a kid confronts someone following them....you try to get away to safety and call police. Unless you are an aggressor with a control problem, or a criminal trying to take out a witness. It goes both ways. I don't know what the truth is, but I do know we should never convict based on race and assumptions which is what most people are doing in this case.....yet every other day of the week they are crying about it being done to others. Hypocritical.

"sometimes carrying a 9 mm pistol, but adds that he would never initiate gunfire."

So if you see what you think is a burglar and they come and attack you, you wont shoot unless they shoot first? You will just let them beat you to death???

Patty-P
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Patty-P 03/27/12 - 06:44 pm
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Good write-up.

Good write-up.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/27/12 - 07:05 pm
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What was the story awhile

What was the story awhile back of the old gentleman who saw someone breaking in his neighbor's house. went over with his gun and captured them?

happychimer
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happychimer 03/27/12 - 07:37 pm
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River I think the man held

River I think the man held them till the police got there.He did not kill them.

GaStang22
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GaStang22 03/27/12 - 07:40 pm
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double_standard
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double_standard 03/27/12 - 07:49 pm
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Neighborhood watches are

Neighborhood watches are vital to the preserverance of any community. Vigilante justice only works in the movies.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 03/27/12 - 08:05 pm
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Some key points I noticed

Some key points I noticed "There’s not a problem with tracking where a suspicious person travels, but the crime watch volunteer should never get close enough to engage the person."

According to statement given, I believe Mr. Zimmerman tracked what he thought was a suspicious person, when he lost him, he headed back to his vehicle and according to his statement was accosted by the young man. How is this any different than what Mr. William just stated.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/27/12 - 08:05 pm
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Happy, true, but he did

Happy, true, but he did confront them with a gun. He held them for the police. It seems like sometimes we say people should get involved and other times we say it's a bad idea.

Pu239
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Pu239 03/27/12 - 08:44 pm
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What happens when the
Unpublished

What happens when the suspicious character engages the neighborhood watch volunteer?

ForeverFrog
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ForeverFrog 03/27/12 - 10:01 pm
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Zimmerman was a wannabe cop

Zimmerman was a wannabe cop who was following a young man who's only crime was "walking while black".

fatboyhog
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fatboyhog 03/27/12 - 10:35 pm
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And you know this to be true,

And you know this to be true, how?

happychimer
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happychimer 03/27/12 - 10:38 pm
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River Trayvon was not

River Trayvon was not committing a crime. Zimmerman followed him and chased him down.Trayvon Martin was not doing anything wrong.Why do people always support the guilty one and blame victims? that to me is wrong.

palmetto1008
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palmetto1008 03/27/12 - 10:54 pm
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Here you go again, ICL...you
Unpublished

Here you go again, ICL...you need to give it up!! The "suspciousness" of Trayvon Martin was that he was black..nothing else. Why do you continue to pound this into the ground?
Again, using the Lord's name to give legitimacy to your unChristian perspective.

GaStang22
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GaStang22 03/27/12 - 11:39 pm
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"The "suspciousness" of
Unpublished

"The "suspciousness" of Trayvon Martin was that he was black..nothing else."

"who's only crime was "walking while black".

How do ya'll know??? Were you there? On the 911 tape Zimmerman said his suspicious behavior was looking into homes. That's typical criminal behavior. You may not care if people go nosing around your stuff and your neighbors, but I'll still call the cops when I see the punks who walk through our neighborhood that slow down and look in the windows of all the cars they pass no matter what race they are and so will our neighbors. If we see them close enough to the houses looking in their windows, we will step out with our guns too, especially at night!!

wondersnevercease
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wondersnevercease 03/28/12 - 04:31 am
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palmetto ...perhaps you
Unpublished

palmetto ...perhaps you should give it up.........and get the facts.

carcraft
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carcraft 03/28/12 - 04:34 am
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Evidence seems to suggest

Evidence seems to suggest that it was Martin who may have confronted Zimmerman and how does any one know who confronted who and what occured? As I understand it Zimmerman got out of his car and followed Martin. The police said don't do it. Zimmerman's breathing slowed indicating he had slowed down. Zimmerman says he was returing to his car when Martin confronted him and hit him. Witnesses say Martin was on top of Zimmerman. When ploice arrived Zimmerman had a bloddy nose and cut on the back of his head, with grass stains on his back. Zimmerman says Martin was going for the gun and they were fighting over it when Martin was shot. The weapon is a semi automatic and the second round never chambered indicating the slide was halted in movement. Now who confronted who and who threw the first punch will be speculaiton. My questin is why aren't more parents and aults upset about the "gansta " Culture in Augusta and the thug wantabes that are injuring, maiming and killing each other along with destroying lives. Where are Sharpton and Jackson protesting the deaths of the young men in Augusta? http://www.wfxg.com/story/16690905/spike-in-murders-has-richmond-county-...

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/28/12 - 04:46 am
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It seems to me it's

It seems to me it's reasonable for neighborhood watch people to ask those they don't recognize in a neighborhood what they are doing there? It also seems reasonable that those walking in a neighborhood would understand a neighborhood watch person might ask them such a question and respond in a reasonable way.

Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 03/28/12 - 04:52 am
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carcraft, you are right.

carcraft, you are right. These folks who are immediately jumping on the Trayvon Bandwagon are just uninformed and chasing the carrot that the media has dangled before them...another story of racial profiling and the death of an innocent black man! Okay, now that the facts are coming out...facts that are corroborated by eyewitnesses...now what do the zealots say? Oh, FORGET the facts and proceed with the witchhunt! They won't be happy until Zimmerman is arrested AND convicted. But he shouldn't be arrested because of the law that is now in place. He didn't get a broken, bloody nose by running into Trayvon's fist. And what about the back of his head? See? There's more to this story than what it first appears.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 03/28/12 - 05:37 am
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palmetto1008, why do I

palmetto1008, why do I continue to pound this into the ground? Because people like you can not see beyond your racist hiney and believe that just maybe this young man was partially at fault for the situation that night. I'm sick and tired of people using race because that gets the biggest squall and everyone says they listen to the tape but no one REALLY LISTENED to the tape.

Thanks again for slamming me concerning my posting name. As I said last night, for someone who claims they follow Christ's teachings I'm more incline to believe you are a wolf in sheep's clothing.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 03/28/12 - 06:01 am
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Tech, what is your point with

Tech, what is your point with posting this link? It appears that he made several calls concerning some suspicious activity, trash in the road, speeding cars through the neighborhood, unrestrained animals, suspicious individuals jumping the fence at the pool, loud music, garage doors open, potholes in th road, etc. Isn't this what a neighborhood watch person is suppose to do. Report suspicious or nuisances in the neighborhood?

owensjef3
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owensjef3 03/28/12 - 06:10 am
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For once in your lives stop
Unpublished

For once in your lives stop trying to support a conservative view and look at what happend from unbias eyes. ZImmerman had already called the police he should have went home and let the police respond to a young man visiting his father and returning from the store.

carcraft
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carcraft 03/28/12 - 06:26 am
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owensjef3- It appears that

owensjef3- It appears that that may have been what Zimmerman may have been doing when he may have been confronted by Martin. How do you know that that was all Martin was doing? Were you there? How do you know what Zimmerman saw?

Techfan
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Techfan 03/28/12 - 06:41 am
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No one seems to be bringing

No one seems to be bringing up the senselessness of a law that allows someone to instigate a confrontation, then claim to feel threatened and blow the other person away. Thanks NRA, your insanity has gotten one person killed, now with the help of ALEC, you'll end up with more blood on your hands.

Techfan
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Techfan 03/28/12 - 07:54 am
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It's so nice to have an

It's so nice to have an expert on black culture. He's such an expert he just can't understand why black leaders don't follow his commands about when and where they should protest.

carcraft
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carcraft 03/28/12 - 08:21 am
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It is nice to have experts on

It is nice to have experts on crime determine innocents, guilt and what happened at the crime scene with out being there, investigating, or interviewing witnesses. Imagine how many crimes could be solved if Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and the liberal news media just prognosticated from thier easy chairs with 20-20 hindsight!! When will Jackson march on himself for racial profiling?

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