Fla. police urge peace after Zimmerman verdict with PSA
Police have released a public-service announcement urging possible protesters to remain peaceful after the jury decides the fate of George Zimmerman
By Jerriann Sullivan
BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. — Deputies from South Florida have released a public-service announcement urging possible protesters to remain peaceful after the jury decides whether George Zimmerman is guilty of murder in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.
The Broward County Sheriff's Office website says deputies have been "working closely with the Sanford Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies" to create a "coordinated a response plan in anticipation of the verdict."
Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith, however, said his agency didn't know about the video and has not coordinated response plans with Broward.
"We...have had really no contact with Broward County in regards to setting up plans and structures in response to anything," Smith said.
Broward Sheriff's officials did not return calls from the Sentinel Wednesday seeking comment about the lack of coordination between the agencies.
Sanford police have worked closely with the Seminole County Sheriff's Office to develop plans on how to respond to various incidents, Smith said, adding that he is doubtful violence will occur in Sanford — regardless of the verdict.
"What people called for a year ago has happened — an investigation into the shooting, George Zimmerman being charged, better training for law enforcement and the Department of Justice investigating the Sanford police department," Smith said. "Each of those things has been received."
Smith also said there has been a low turnout of protesters at the Seminole County courthouse throughout the trial so far.
The community "has put their trust into the judicial system and we ask that they keep putting their trust in the judicial system," Smith said.
Seminole Sheriff's spokeswoman Kim Cannaday said the agency, "had no hand in producing or releasing the video."
The 36-second video features law enforcement officials, kids from the Jason Taylor Foundation and James Jones of the Miami Heat. The participants shout "raise your voice, not your hands" and "let's give violence a rest, because we can easily end up arrested."
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said in a statement on the website that his agency has no information "about a specific event that might take place at the conclusion of the trial, but we encourage everyone to keep any protests peaceful."
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of South Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford.
Trayvon of Miami Gardens was 17 when he was gunned down by Zimmerman, a Neighborhood Watch volunteer who claimed self-defense after the shooting in February 2012.
The trial is unfolding in Sanford and is drawing to a close.
The case has drawn attention from around the globe, including intense interest in South Florida because of the teen's connection to the region.
Broward deputies also said their strategic-investigation division has been "monitoring the pulse of the situation, maintaining open lines of communication with community leaders, civic activists, members of the clergy, as well as local, state and federal agencies."
The Southern Christian Leadership Council is holding a press conference at the Seminole County courthouse at 11 a.m. Thursday to call "for calm during and after this trial," the organization said in a press release.
Copyright 2013 The Orlando Sentinel