Trayvon Martin shooting draws attention to neighborhood watch groups

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Trayvon Martin shooting has brought up several questions, including where the line is between what a neighborhood watch should do to protect the community and when law enforcement should be called in.

Sadie Blue is the community watch captain in the Elwell neighborhood. She said she keeps an eye on things such as strange cars riding back and forth through the neighborhood or a break-in. But she draws a very specific line.

“My job is not to take the law into my own hands. It’s to call the police,” Blue said. “I know firsthand that if we call them, they respond. They’re just as concerned as we about what goes on in our neighborhood.”

Greensboro Police Officers S.R. Little recommends never coming out of your home and approaching someone suspicious, even if you’re a part of a neighborhood watch group.

“Let us know a description of the person, a tag number of the vehicle if you can get that safely, a description of the vehicle, the direction of travel,” Little said.

Little said police also encourage neighborhood watch people not to be armed.

“When we’re coming out to a call, our officers that are patrolling don’t know you’re part of that community watch,” Little said.

Signs are also posted in many community watch neighborhoods that emphasize calling 911.

If you want to start a neighborhood watch where you live, call the nonemergency number at Greensboro Police and tell them you’re interested. They’ll tell you what you need to do from there.

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