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SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake County sheriff's deputies say they have no record the man shot Tuesday night while paroling a Bluffdale neighborhood was part of a neighborhood watch group in the area.
Though neighborhood groups can organize on their own, law enforcement agencies say they don't sponsor the kind of program it appears this neighborhood had.
Neighborhood watch is a valuable program, but deputies say weapons have no place in it.
Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Deputy Levi Hughes said, "We recommend you do not. As a matter of fact, we tell you, you should not carry firearms."
He continued, "If you have a gun, sometimes people will feel more empowered. Problem is they don't have the training, knowledge or experience to handle a confrontation that would require a gun."
The Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office sponsors neighborhood watch groups and offers training for members.
"We come to their homes. We meet with them. We talk to them about the things they need to watch out for, things they need to do to protect themselves," Hughes said.
He says the man who was shot, 36-year-old David Serbek, was not part of a sponsored program. The sheriff's office stopped sponsoring mobile patrol about 10 years ago after a shooting and chase involving mobile patrol members.
The sheriff's office says the situation Tuesday night could have been handled differently by Serbeck and the shooter, 43-year-old Reggie Campos. They say a cell phone, not a gun, is the best weapon.
"This is an example of what's happened before and could happen to you if you take the law into your own hands," Hughes said.
Investigators say Serbeck had a concealed carry permit; Campos did not but legally owned his gun.
Gun lobbyist Clark Aposhian says gun training emphasizes disengagement techniques. He says that's always the first step.
"Your first thought should always be, when faced in an encounter like this, is to disengage. Try to step back try to move away. Even if you have a firearm, you don't always win," Aposhian said.
Other law enforcement agencies do sponsor mobile patrol programs. Salt Lake City Police started theirs in 1993 and say it's been very successful. Their policy prohibits any weapons.
If you are interested in learning more about neighborhood watch programs in your area, click on the links below. If your area is not listed, contact your local law enforcement agency for more information:
- Salt Lake City Police Department Mobile Neighborhood Watch
- Salt Lake City Police Department Community Oriented Policing
- Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office Community Watch
- Utah County Citizen Corps