Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger gathered with Sanford's police chief shortly after jurors began deliberating George Zimmerman's fate, and issued a stern warning to the public:
"We will not tolerate anyone who uses this verdict to violate the law."
Eslinger and Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith gathered at the courthouse Friday afternoon to encourage the public to respond to the verdict with peace, and also to ensure the community is safe.
Eslinger said that while he recognizes the Zimmerman case brings out a great deal of emotion in people, "there's no tension in Seminole County."
Seminole County's top law-enforcer said he expects citizens and visitors will act peacefully, and he encouraged business owners to not disrupt their operations.
Smith said his city has been a "peaceful" location since the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a shooting that put national spotlight on the Central Florida suburb.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it's a trying time for all of us," said Smith, who was hired in after former Chief Bill Lee Jr., who oversaw the investigation into Trayvon's death, was fired.
"We're not sure what the verdict will bring out...Allow the judicial system to run its course."
Smith spokes of the changes that have unfolded at his agency and in the city after Trayvon's death, including increased communication with the police department and the community.
"More needs to be done," he said.
Smith said Sanford residents are working together to be a better community, but, "we can do more."
"When this trial passes, it will still be our community," he said.
Meanwhile, on the opening day of the NAACP convention in Orlando, national CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said he had met with Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett and felt "very confident that Sanford is a city that is on the path to greater and greater healing."
Jealous also told reporters that, regardless of the verdict, the NAACP would support Trayvon Martin's family in pursuing other options for justice.
"The federal government can seek to hold him [Zimmerman] accountable for violating the civil rights of Trayvon Martin," Jealous said. The family also could file a civil suit against Zimmerman.
Jealous praised Trayvon's parents for having "forced us to talk openly and honestly — perhaps for the first time in a decade — about the problem of discrimination and who is chosen to be treated as a suspect in our communities."Copyright © 2015, CT Now