During George Zimmerman’s trial, witness Wendy Dorvial testified that she asked George Zimmerman if he wanted to be a volunteer member of Citizens on Patrol. She testified that Zimmerman turned down her offer. At closing argument, Mark O’Mara, defense attorney for George Zimmerman, argued that if Zimmerman was a wannabe cop, that he would have taken the offer to join Citizens on Patrol. Mark O’Mara then proceeded to outright lie about the program saying that its volunteers get to act like cops.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement produced an abstract of Citizens on Patrol (C.O.P.), taking a survey from counties using that program. The abstract provides references, one in which is the National Association of Citizens on Patrol.
NACP has an extensive, informative website. Along with describing its purpose and the benefit of being a volunteer in the community, it also provides accomplishments and the stories of volunteers. What caught my attention in regards to George Zimmerman, is the following;
“As the name implies, Citizens On Patrol are Citizens who, after being screened, background checked, and trained by their local law enforcement agency, patrol their communities acting as “Eyes and Ears” for law enforcement.”
The C.O.P. program provides vehicles with emergency lights. Volunteers ride two per car.”
The national association also sets forth;
“C.O.P.’s do not take enforcement action, they only observe and report. Citizen Patrol Volunteers are not authorized to carry weapons and are encouraged to avoid physical contact. C.O.P.’s greatest weapon is their established bond with local law enforcement and their ability to communicate directly with them by radio or cellular phones using special dedicated phone numbers.”
While medical clearance and passing a criminal background check might concern Zimmerman in meeting the qualifications, it’s two conditions of C.O.P. that immediately come to my attention that would cause Zimmerman to turn down Ms. Dorvial’s offer. Those conditions are that volunteers work in twos, and they cannot carry weapons.
As Wendy Dorvial testified, there are distinct differences between neighborhood watch and C.O.P. One is that volunteers with C.O.P. actually patrol. In Neighbor Watch, residents are not supposed to do anything beyond their everyday activities. Although Zimmerman was not supposed to patrol, he did. At least one time, he used his dog as an excuse for seeing a suspicious person outside of Frank Taaffe’s house. Anyone looking at the map for Retreat at Twin Lakes for where Zimmerman resided, where Frank Taaffe resides, and the location of the dog walk, can see there is no logical reason why Zimmerman would walk from his house to Frank Taaffe’s house to get to the dog walk. Zimmerman did say that he walked his dog on the dog walk where he killed Trayvon. That dog walk and Frank Taaffe’s house are in opposite directions.
Another distinct difference is that C.O.P. volunteers work in pairs. It is logically safer to work in pairs when patrolling. George Zimmerman patrolling alone, gave him opportunity to do what he wanted without witnesses.
An important distinction is that C.O.P. volunteers cannot carry weapons. Zimmerman stated on Sean Hannity’s program that he carried his gun everywhere other than to work. Having a conceal carry license does not give C.O.P. volunteers authority to carry weapons, anymore than employees working in an airport or courthouse with conceal carry permits cannot carry weapons at work. Citizens on Patrol are not deputized.
In conclusion, George Zimmerman did not refuse volunteering for C.O.P. because he isn’t a cop wannabe. Rather, George Zimmerman refused volunteering for C.O.P. because its rules of working in pairs, and not carrying weapons, were too restricting.
The following video contains testimony by Wendy Dorvial regarding C.O.P., and Mark O’Mara’s misrepresentation to the jury.