City of Sanford hires Texas consulting firm to find new police chief

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SANFORD, Fla. —

WFTV found out the city of Sanford has hired some help to find its new police chief.

The city manager fired Chief Bill Lee back in June over how he handled the Trayvon Martin shooting.

Now, the same headhunter that found Lee has been hired to find his replacement.

The city paid a Dallas company almost $25,000 to choose Lee to run this department. He came from just a few miles away at the Seminole County Sheriff's Office.

Lee was hired less than two years ago from a pool of 21 candidates found by Waters Consulting Group. Half of them were from Florida.

WFTV asked City Manager Norton Bonaparte why he's hiring Waters again to find Lee's replacement.

"Why can't you do that? It's a matter of looking at a company that professionally goes out and assists searching the country in finding police chiefs. We're looking at it from a professional perspective. We want the best police chief that we can and I think this is the best way to do it," said Bonaparte.

Bonaparte said Waters undercut the other two bidders by about $20,000, since it had already done the groundwork in 2010.

It's charging a base fee of $13,000, but there will be extra costs for work and travel. It billed the city another $7,000 over the base fee of $17,000 in 2010. This time the job could be tougher and take longer.

The Dallas consultant will do focus groups in the community and meet with city staffers to develop the profile of the perfect chief to take over after Martin was shot and killed.

The unarmed 17-year-old was shot and killed seven months ago on his way home from 7-Eleven by former neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, who said he was defending himself against a brutal beating.

Sanford police did not immediately arrest Zimmerman, which touched off marches and protests and led to Lee's undoing.

Bonaparte did not hire Lee to run the department. Bonaparte didn't work for Sanford back then, but he is familiar with the Dallas consulting firm because that's how Bonaparte got the Sanford city manager job.