Local neighborhood watches react to Fla. incident

March 21, 2012 9:00:00 PM PDT
In the wake of the Trayvon Martin case, some Triangle neighborhood watch groups are asking questions about their role.

Matt Leary told ABC11 that his community watch in Raleigh's Longview Park is more about community and less about the watch.

"Rather than focus on the vigilante aspect where we have people in berets going around with tasers, we don't want to do that," said Leary. "That's not what we're about."

There are fears that the tensions in Florida following the shooting death of a black teenager at the hands of a community watch captain could be far-reaching. Some expressed concerns that neighborhood patrol groups could become less effective.

In a letter to ABC11, one neighborhood watch captain in Hope Mills wrote, "I am defending the neighborhood watch name because we do have other community watches around the country that will feel the effect of this negligent act of one person and will leave some communities with a bad taste in their mouth about a community watch program."

"I haven't found any backlash," said Leary. "I'd be the first one to address it -- to let people know we're not here to fire guns. I don't even own a gun. We're not here to police them. We're here to be a community and look out for each other."

Leary says his group works closely with police but doesn't try to be the police.

Instead of patrols, Leary encouraged neighbors to show presence by walking their dogs more and to just know their neighbors, like Betty Capers who lives up the street.

"We don't want anyone giving the community person a bad name," said Capers. "We are just trying to help each other."

"We need to work with the police in order to identify problems and let them solve them," said Leary. "We're not there to solve them."

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