Tampa neighborhood watch programs look at rules after Zimmerman - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa neighborhood watch programs look at rules after Zimmerman

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

In the aftermath of George Zimmerman's acquittal, experts say home owners associations with neighborhood watch programs are expected to re-examine their operations. While many already have rules and regulations in place, some neighbors don't always abide by them.

In Tampa's Dana Shores during a rash of robberies several years ago a neighbor blasted an email to the community linking an innocent man to the crimes that had been committed there.

"I was surprised that in my neighborhood that this person not only jumped to a bunch of conclusions that was absolutely false but also took it upon himself to get in his car follow my friend for over 10 miles," said Michael Lundy, a former resident of Dana Shores.

Lundy and a nearby neighbor hired Punchology fitness expert Paul Simpson to train their families in the early morning hours before work.  Simpson trained the families twice a week for more than a year.  Early one morning Simpson arrived to train Lundy and the house lights were off, he figured his client over slept. Simpson drove to the next client wondering if he might want to train early and it was lights out at that house as well.  

Simpson who never got out of his car, decided to just head home to South Tampa.

"I quickly realized that someone was following me," Simpson said.  "Just to make sure I made a few turns without using my blinker and sure enough I was being followed."

After about five miles Simpson picked up speed and says the person following him stayed right on his tail. 

"At one point I thought about getting out of my car to ask him what's up."

But when the light turned green Simpson explained he just drove away and eventually lost the man. The next day Simpson's clients received an email the circulated through the neighborhood from the man who was following him. 

" It was a relatively scathing email, making a variety of false a accusations even going as far as to call him nefarious and then essentially accuse him of being part of a crime that had been committed sometime in the past against one of the residents of the neighborhood that involved a shooting to me it was just crazy," Lundy said.

The email contained Paul Simpson's full name and since he was driving his wife's car her name was part of the email.  It also included his tag number and home address.

The president of the Dana Shores Community Watch program says emailing personal information is not protocol and rules on its website clearly state to never follow a person believed to be suspicious.  

When the watch group found out about the email linking Simpson to previous crimes, a follow up email was sent explaining that Simpson is welcome in the community and that Simpson was never linked to any crimes in the Dana Shores community.   

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