What do you feel are the greatest benefits of community policing?
This question is certainly pertinent in my neck of the woods (I live in Central Florida), since you may have read about the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a white, self-appointed community "block captain" and neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida recently. George Zimmerman, the man who fired the shot that killed unarmed teen Trayvon Martin, appears to have taken his job way to seriously. He repeatedly called 911 to report suspicious characters in his gated neighborhood, and he spent hours daily circling the area in his car and calling on neighbors. Many of his neighbors have credited Zimmerman with solving local break-ins, but Zimmerman was also warned by police to stay in his car on the night of the killing. Nevertheless, Zimmerman left his car with gun in hand and fired a shot that killed Martin, who was returning from a local convenience store with an Arizona Iced Tea and a bag of Skittles. Martin, 17, had no criminal record unlike Zimmerman, who had previously been accused with assault, domestic violence and credit fraud. This is an extreme case of a power-hungry, wannabe cop who takes the most drastic measures possible on an apparently innocent victim, and racism appears to be a mitigating factor. Community policing can be a good thing when handled properly by stable, trained volunteers, but Zimmerman appears to be the kind of man who only creates more fear and hatred within his own community.