Updated:SANFORD, Fla. —
Ten new officers joined the Sanford Police Department on Tuesday, bringing the total to 14 officers hired since Chief Cecil Smith took over less than a year ago.
Channel 9's Karla Ray learned a small portion of those positions were open because of retirements, but Smith said the rest just went unfilled for years.
Ray learned the promotions that took place on Tuesday were even more rare.
Nigel Price was one of two newly promoted sergeants. Price has been with SPD for 16 years, and it was his first rank promotion.
"Moving to this forward position is going to allow me to influence certain things within the community that I've seen throughout the department in 16 years to better the department as a whole," said Price.
Officer Otto Garcia has been volunteering at the station for the past two years.
"I got to know some of the people in the community and just really enjoyed being out here," he said.
The ceremony marks 12 promotions since Smith took over nine months ago. Over the three years prior to Smith's swearing in, only three people within the department got promoted.
"It's very unusual to have such a high percentage of new hires coming in and the number of promotions we've had an opportunity as well," said Smith.
It's a goal Smith first identified when Channel 9 interviewed him in Elgin, Ill., after it was announced he'd be the new chief.
Smith said he believes the promotions are helping to fix morale within the department, in turn, making relationships between officers and citizens stronger.
"In the past five years there have been a number of police chiefs who have been in this position who haven't had an opportunity to make these changes," said Smith.