Sanford's New Police Chief Sworn In
April 1st, 2013 | WMFE- Sanford's new police chief Cecil Smith says he wants to restore trust in the police department. Smith was sworn in during a ceremony Monday morning in front of local dignitaries, city employees and residents.
[Image: Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith talks to the media after his swearing in ceremony]
Cecil Smith, who was the deputy chief of the Elgin Illinois police, said he comes to the job with “a clean slate.”
Smith said he’s aware of comments about the conduct of some Sanford police officers in the past- but now he wants the department to regain the community’s trust.
“I can’t tolerate racism in the police department, I can’t tolerate people being harassed by police officers," Smith said.
to make sure our police officers are above board and professional”
The former chief, Bill Lee, was fired following complaints about his department’s investigation into the shooting of unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman last year. Zimmerman - who says he acted in self defense- was eventually arrested and charged with second degree murder by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He is due to stand trial in June.
Smith said he wants to help the community heal and move on from that incident.
Seminole County NAACP branch president Turner Clayton Jr. said divisions between the community and the police stretch back years before the Martin incident.
“You can’t put a time limit on how long it’s going to take to build that trust- it’s not going to happen overnight," Clayton said.
"Of course [Smith] has to try to get his department to do what needs to be done in order to gain the trust of the community once again," he added.