Neighborhood Watch

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A neighborhood watch sign attached to a door. A neighborhood watch sign attached to a door. (Ente75 [Public domain]/Wikipedia Commons)

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, WNYC reporter Ailsa Chang and Robert McCrie, professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice department of security, fire, and emergency management and an expert in community policing, join us to look at the role of neighborhood watch groups and citizen law enforcement.


Robert McCrie

Comments [28]

Robert Moore from Brooklyn

In addition to being a coward and a killer Zimmerman is a stalker. He stalked Trayvon Martin and shot him while the kid pled for his life. The “authorities” in Florida are complicit. In New York there is a massive network of criminal vigilante stalkers that operate with the same impunity as Zimmerman did, he called the police 46 times without being questioned or confronted. The headline of your very insightful February 14, 2011 article read “Victim's Alleged Failure to Report Stalking Too Familiar, Advocates Say. “ Trayvon was being followed by this guy in a truck, he called his girlfriend not the police the reason is clear to the world. There is a core of corruption in the Big Apple that has to be exposed.

Mar. 23 2012 04:27 PM
Margaret from UWS Manhattan

To The Caller, Policeman Danny, "It' only media when it's the cookie-cutter scenario they like to go for"? Come on, you explained everything else so perfectly and completely! Of course death happens during crimes between people of the same "race" every day somewhere; but race being a factor is when it's that other issue that the society needs to address. There's an earthquake somewhere on the planet practically 365 days a year, but you have to look up the information for that subject if that's what you want. The (more)local news has to be edited somehow, so what do you edit? You're right, people should care for every soul that gets taken from life unfairly. Some time ago, there was a website for giving respect to murder victims, whose stories
didn't get to be larger than local media.

Mar. 22 2012 05:26 PM
john from office

Fuva, because they are oppressed, is that the pat answer.

Mar. 22 2012 04:32 PM
fuva from Harlemworld

so, bernie, why do black men "commit more crimes than anyone else"?

Mar. 22 2012 04:13 PM
rose-ellen from jackson heights

And we thought parts of pakistran and afghanistan are lawless. This "stand your ground" law apparrently means it"s a free for all where anyone can kill anyone provided there are no witnesses.And based on the tapes released of zimmermann's call to the police -he sounded to me like a man on a mission to kill someone that night.The call wss his cover.The racism was evident in his statement "they always get away with it" as his intention to wanted to kill someone was evident in inventing a problem where clearly there was none.

Mar. 22 2012 03:15 PM
bernie from bklyn

couple of things.....the NRA has far too much power in this country. obviously we can't reduce their influence until we change campaign finance laws and overturn citizens united but until then, we need to come together as rational citizens of this country and fight back against this organization that lives in a pure fantasy world. it'd be great if people were all responsible, mature, moral adults who handled firearms correctly and safely. but that's not the case. we are a country filled w/ morons. and those morons keep breeding more morons so we have to accept that they aren't going anywhere therefore guns can't be as easily accessible as they are now AND it has to be a national/federal law. for instance, virginia can't sell guns willynilly and new york can't.
also, why are young black men targeted so much? is it because everyone else is racist? or is it because there is a huge % of young black men in this country that don't know how to behave on any level and they ruin it for everyone else.. young,black men commit more crimes thatn anyone else and don't tell me about the socio-economic reasons,blahblah...that's hogwash. there are plenty of poor people that don't hurt others. there are no leaders in the black community and no one in these kids' lives to tell them how to act like an adult. what are they supposed to do? it's not their fault- it's the fault of the supposed "adults" around them....get your community in check and slowly, poor kids like this won't be targeted anymore.

Mar. 22 2012 11:44 AM
Jubbe from nyc

I had a broken leg one day, I do not have insurance.

An ambulance came to pick me up, I asked them how much they wanted to take me to the hospital, it was a lot. I said i want to shop around. That did not go well for me.

I asked which hospital they will take me too. I know the other one is cheaper for broken legs then the one they want to take me too.
Again it did not go well for me.

I agree everyone needs to bargain with their medical providers.

Mar. 22 2012 10:43 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

Course, those "Stand Your Ground" lawmakers could just be trying to deflect blame, like cowards.

Mar. 22 2012 10:42 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

gigi, I get your point, but the drafters of the "Stand Your Ground" law (and many many thoughtful others disagree:

Mar. 22 2012 10:36 AM

Two comments I would like to make after hearing the listener "Danny" (who is a former cop):

1. Private security may have guns. When I worked at Merrill Lynch, the regular security guards did not carry guns, but their superiors (the Sergeants) did. I'm almost sure that the same was true when I worked at Macy's.

2. Was I the only one who was stunned when "Danny" claimed that only "civilian" (i.e., untrained) security people overreact? Where has this former cop been the last fifty years in this country? There are news stories all the time of police overreacting to unarmed people who they accidentally kill because of their overreaction.

Mar. 22 2012 10:34 AM

Brian, do you have access to some facts that many of us listeners don't have access to? How do you know he was a "captain" of a/the "neighborhood watch group"?

As several commenters have pointed out, per reporting, Zimmerman was not an appointed or designated "watchman" for the gated community.

It seems he was self-designated as a "neighborhood watch" person -- and I guess either he or some reporter called him the "captain" of the watch "group." Of one.

Also, he was told to not give chase, but he did. He was safe in his vehicle, he could have continued to watch the young man, but he got out of his car, gave chase, caused a confrontation, and then made it physical (based on the girlfriend's account of the "altercation" (btw, if someone attacks another person, can that be called an "altercation"?).

This guy seems to have been, well, out of control.

And he gives real neighborhood watch group members a very bad name. On top of which, the guidelines for neighborhood watch groups is that they DO NOT CARRY WEAPONS.

Mar. 22 2012 10:32 AM
Kim from Brooklyn

@John from Office:

What's considered a "hoodlum look" is subjective because non-black youth who dress in styles that are considered cool by the latest hip hop standards aren't being perceived as suspicious or criminal. I live in Brighton Beach and the three ethnic groups that reside there are Russians, Mexicans and Pakistanis. The teenage men of those groups have adopted the hip hop style of dress (hoodies, sagging pants, fancy sneakers, fitted caps). Are they considered hoodlums? Because these youths have adopted the hip hop culture, will they be destined to a life of crime?

Mar. 22 2012 10:31 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

The suggestion -- by the caller Danny -- that Zimmerman was right until he killed Trayvon seems to sanction Zimmerman's initial suspicion of Trayvon for being black and walking on a rainy evening.

Also, the crisis of black-on-black crime simple does not deprive us of the right to be outraged at unpunished, apparently racially-motivated murder. (In fact, there's a relationship between the two.)

Mar. 22 2012 10:30 AM
john from office

Shelly, I am not speaking of hoodies, I am talking in general, the whole hoodlum look that is popular, that includes the stance and attitude of a hoodlum. I see it with young blacks I know, they are very nice guys, but they look threatening if you dont know them. Just an observation.

Mar. 22 2012 10:25 AM
The Truth from Becky

This is NOT Black or White or Hispanic, this is simply overzealous, pompous, azz...Now we need to hear form the local police department to explain whey THEY don't feel there is need for an arrest even after hearing the 911 tapes!!!

Mar. 22 2012 10:25 AM
gigi from NY

that former officer was quoting NY law when he said there has to be deadly physical force. As far as I understand, that Florida statute has a lower standard, thsiis why Zimmerman will probable not face any time for his act. At the end of the day there is a law that protects his actions

Mar. 22 2012 10:24 AM

From TPM today:

Florida was the first state in the country to pass such a bill, but they weren’t the last. And like many legislative trends, this one has its roots in the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Minutes documenting a 2005 meeting from an old ALEC website provided to TPM by the Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause show that Marion Hammer of the National Rifle Association (NRA) pitched model legislation to ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Force. An old NRA update also documented the meeting. “Her talk was well-received, and the task force subsequently adopted the measure unanimously,” the NRA wrote in an Aug. 12, 2005 post on the NRA website.

As Matt Gertz writes over at Media Matters, Florida’s law is “virtually identical” to the so-called “Castle Doctrine Act” proposed by ALEC and the NRA’s suggestion.

Opponents of the legislation are pointing out how easily it could be abused.

“All you have to say is that you reasonably believed you were threatened, and the only person who can dispute that is the person you have just killed,” says Daniel Vice of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. But as this chart from Mother Jones illustrates, “Stand Your Ground” bills have already spread across the country.

Sponsors of Florida’s bill, meanwhile, are claiming it shouldn’t come into play in the Martin case.

“They got the goods on him. They need to prosecute whoever shot the kid,” former Sen. Durell Peaden told the Miami Herald. “He has no protection under my law.”


I will never go to Florida, who needs this kind of society.

Mar. 22 2012 10:24 AM
Maggie from NYC

I am wondering why this watchman has not been arrested. He has committed murder based on his assumptions and fear. If he knew his neighborhood which he was alledged watching, he would have seen Trayvon before, hoody or no hoody. RIP Trayvon.

Mar. 22 2012 10:22 AM
John A.

This case needs more investigation. But the shooter is damned either way. It's unimaginable that this guy misses jail time.

Mar. 22 2012 10:22 AM

Awesome caller. Thanks for providing sanity to the discussion.

Mar. 22 2012 10:19 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

John - I get your point but ALL Youth, including white and hispanic youth wear hoodies - it's not illegal, nor should they be killed for it.

Mar. 22 2012 10:18 AM
Bernard from Bronx

This guy was a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain. You keep giving him the legitimacy that he does not have. He was a wannabe police officer.

Mar. 22 2012 10:15 AM
Burtnor from Manhattan

I wish WNYC and other news organizations would stop referring to George Zimmerman as a "community watch member" and, this morning the news broadcast promoted him to "community watch captain."

He is not a member of any registered community watch group and has not been trained as a community watch member by any police organization. He is a SELF-APPOINTED community watch person who was carrying a gun and pursued and engaged someone he thought was suspicious, both of which are in direct contradiction to the most basic community watch rules. He is essentially a vigilante.

Mar. 22 2012 10:15 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

If Mr Zimmerman was part of an official watch group, can this gated community be held legally liable, in a civil court, for this poor youth's death?

Mar. 22 2012 10:14 AM
John from office

This event in Florida is a tragic event. Mr. Zimmerman is a wannabe cop and they are always a problem, more so if they are armed.

But, at the risk of being called a racist, which occurs on occation on this board, why is there an admiration of the hoodlum look among black male youth. This need to be or appear to be "bad". I understand the need to be "hard" in a bad nieghborhood, but this leads to the assumption of criminality. Also, the high rate of black crime leads to the expectation of criminal activity, the community should seek to resolve that amongst thenselves.

Mar. 22 2012 10:12 AM
Ruby-Beth from Brooklyn (by way of Atlanta)

Sadly, I think your first statement about the police is accurate. Neighborhood watch or NYPD we are losing young black men all the time. The value of life is the issue. Until there is a shift in mindset this will continue to be an issue. Yes, this case is extremely painful but unfortunately it's not rare.

Mar. 22 2012 10:12 AM
ellie from newark

Neighborhood Watch is a good thing, but not following a teen-ager in a pickup truck with a gun at night AFTER the police told him not to follow the guy!

Mar. 22 2012 10:11 AM

1. did this neighborhood have a chronic problem of being terrorized or burglarized by individuals fitting the profile of this unfortunate young man? Or was this pure racism as opposed to purely logical profiling?

2. is the bigger problem that an unarmed young man got shot and killed for no reason? or that the local police was inclined to consider the shooter as innocent (for example, by not testing him for drunkenness)? What are we talking about here?

3. If the Florida laws passed by the peoples' representatives give many gun liberties to citizens, what responsibility do Floridians against the results of such laws have in reversing them? Or is this young man to be considered just an unfortunate sacrifice to the greater good of having more gun freedoms?

Mar. 22 2012 09:17 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.