I just wanted to say a few words about the tragic Trayvon Martin case. Having been in law enforcement for twenty-five years, I find the help of the public to be indispensible. You are our eyes and ears. Cops cannot be everywhere at once. There are simply not enough of us. But all we need you to do is report anything you feel is suspicious. A description of the suspect, his clothing, direction of travel and why you believe he is suspicious is all we need. We will take it from there. There is a reason why we go through months of training at the academy and then spend up to a year with an experienced training officer before most officers are allowed on the street in a one-man car. Not only do we have to learn what to do, but also what not to do. For every hour we spend learning how to do something, we spend another hour learning how not to get sued or arrested while we’re doing it.
For Mr. Zimmerman to follow someone down a street at night without identifying himself or telling Mr. Martin why he was doing it is the definition of stupidity. If you were followed by someone you did not know late at night, would you not try to get away? If you ran and he ran after you, would you not feel threatened? I am sure if Mr. Martin had lived he would say he was trying to defend himself from a threat that night.
I do not know what happened in the final minutes of Mr. Martin’s life. I do not know Florida’s Stand-Your-Ground Law, so I cannot say if Mr. Zimmerman is guilty of a crime in Florida (without a doubt he is civilly liable). I cannot see into Mr. Zimmerman’s heart to see if Mr. Martin’s race played a part in any of this (Martin is African-American and Zimmerman is Hispanic). I do know that Mr. Zimmerman is an overzealous, untrained citizen who thought he was doing the right thing and did everything wrong. I also know that if Mr. Zimmerman had been a trained police officer and had acted in that manner that night, he would have lost his job, whether or not charges were filed.