Sanford's police chief discusses changes made in his first year



SANFORD, Fla. - It's been one year since Chief Cecil Smith took over the Sanford Police Department and a lot has changed in that time.

When Smith started in Sanford there were only four volunteers working with the Police Department. There's now 38 volunteers and 18 of them can also work as citizens on patrol.

It's just one way Smith has gotten the community involved in the Police Department.

After 33-year-old Marcus Killingsworth was killed and surveillance video was released showing his killers, tip calls flooded into Crimeline, leading Sanford police to make two arrests.

"People are picking up the telephone who would never call us before to tell us that things are taking place," Smith said.

In the 52 weeks Smith has been the police chief, he's done 50 walk-and-talks in the community and he's hired more than a dozen new officers, adding diversity to the police force.

But according to crime statistics, violent crimes are actually up in Sanford by 10 percent in the last year. Smith said it's a sign that more people on the streets are coming forward to report crimes.

"Now that we've gotten into the community and talked to people about the things and even though our crime rate is up, our arrest rate is up equally, if not more," Smith said.

Statistics show arrests have increased by 14 percent. Just recently, seven suspected drug dealers were arrested in Sanford.

"It's been a year and I think we've done some great things in this year but we still have a long way to go," Smith said.

Smith said his goal for the next year is to target high-crime areas and add more programs with the department.