Sanford Florida Picks New Police Chief... Wait For It - From Chicago AreaSubmitted by barracuda_trader on Fri, 07/12/2013 - 06:59
Cecil Smith, deputy police chief in Elgin, Ill., on Thursday accepted the job of Sanford police chief — a move residents and leaders hope will help the city heal from years of racial mistrust that reached a crescendo with last year's killing of Trayvon Martin.
Smith, 51, who was offered the job last month by City Manager Norton Bonaparte, will be paid $114,757 annually. He will start work April 1.
City leaders chose a new police chief Tuesday and made him an offer. But the deal is not done yet.
Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte said he made a deal with Cecil Smith, deputy chief of the Elgin, Ill. Police Department, and one of the five candidates who were under consideration for the top job. He has 25 years of experience in both law enforcement and the military.
“I selected Mr. Smith because of one particular characteristic that he exhibited, and that was ability to work with the community,” Bonaparte said.
Smith has not yet accepted the job, and even after he would have to pass the routine pre-employment screenings.
Should Smith do so, he would be spending time trying to help the department regain the community's trust, nearly one year after the Trayvon Martin shooting.
Former Police Chief Bill Lee was fired after heavy criticism, particularly from the city's African-American community, over his department's handling of the investigation into the shooting.
The Sanford Police Department has been repeatedly criticized over its handling of racial issues.
“He cannot backstep, he cannot sidestep, he has to look forward and aim straight, because there are a lot of eyes, ears that will be on him right now,” said Francis Oliver with the Goldsboro Welcome Center, a facility to honor Sanford's black heritage.
Smith was one of two black candidates considered for the job. But Bonaparte said that's not why he chose him.
"What was a consideration was the response that I got from the people on the review panel, the response from residents that attended the public forum that we had,” Bonaparte said.