Sanford hires Chicago-area deputy chief as new police chief

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SANFORD, Fla. —

Sanford will soon have a new police chief. Cecil Smith accepted the job on Thursday.

Smith, who is from the Chicago area, will come to Sanford as its new police chief at a volatile time.

He's scheduled to start April 1, just 20 days before George Zimmerman goes to court for a "stand your ground" hearing in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. There is a possibility that the hearing could mean an end to the second-degree murder charge in Zimmerman's case.

"I'm certain we'll come up with some type of plan during that course of time," Smith said in a phone interview with WFTV.

If the charges against Zimmerman are dismissed some are concerned a familiar scene could erupt in Sanford.

Demonstrators took to the streets in the weeks after Zimmerman shot and killed Martin in Sanford last February.

It was more than a month after the shooting that police arrested Zimmerman.

WFTV's Ryan Hughes asked Smith what he'd do if the scene plays out again.

"Regardless of what direction that happens is that the community comes together and make sure the community is safe. But again, it's difficult to talk about that when I'm not there," said Smith.

In court late Thursday, Judge Debra Nelson scheduled two weeks of stand your ground hearings, even though attorney Mark O'Mara wanted to push them back further.

Nelson said the trial will go ahead June 10.

Smith will make $115,000 as the new police chief.