Neighborhood Watch focus of 'stand your ground' tweaks

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Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 5:55 pm | Updated: 9:09 pm, Sat Oct 18, 2014.

NORTH PORT, FL - Tuesday a Florida Senate judiciary committee moving forward on changes to the current "stand your ground" law. It includes requiring training for neighborhood watch volunteers and making sure police fully and completely investigate when force is used in self defense.

Local law enforcement agencies like the North Port Police Department simply enforce the law. Now waiting for potential changes to "stand your ground", prompted by the death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman. "We hope that would never happen again. Anywhere else ever again. Not to take sides. It was a sad situation." Captain Anthony Sirianni says North Port has a large group which is separate from the department. "We do try to educate the public that neighborhood watch is out there to be the eyes and ears of the North Port Police Department. They work with us not for us."

We contacted the organization but were told a representative was not available. Sirianni says district commanders stay in close contact with the volunteers and inform them of trends and what they should do if they see something out of the ordinary. "It's important for them to understand to be on maybe not the same page as law enforcement but the same ideology. They know what limits they have. What their job responsibilities are. If they see something unusual or suspicious to call us and not act."

The Senate panel is also working to clarify that police should fully and completely investigate when force is used in self defense. Since the law was enacted in 2005 Sirianni says they have not dealt with a single case of it being used there. "There are so many variables. Each case is a case by case basis. Evaluated as such."

The bill is also trying to clarify that anyone who uses force against an attacker can still be responsible if they injure of kill an uninvolved bystander. For now those who enforce the law are waiting to see if there is any changes to how they'll do it in the future. "We are watching Tallahassee very closely to see how and if this law changes. If it does we will act accordingly. We will educate our officers as well as collaborating with neighborhood watch to make sure they understand what they can and cannot do."

If some alterations do pass in the Senate it's expected there will be an even bigger fight in the House. Some representatives there say they don't even want to change a single comma in the law.

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