• New Sanford police chief sworn in


    SANFORD, Fla. - Sanford has a new police chief.

    Cecil Smith of Elgin, Ill., officially took over the department Monday.

    He was sworn in during a ceremony Monday with his wife at his side and more than a hundred people packed inside Sanford City Commission chambers.

    Smith is inheriting a department that's endured an awful lot of controversy.

    He replaces former Police Chief Bill Lee, who was fired over his handling of the Trayvon Martin case.

    George Zimmerman is accused of shooting and killing Martin.

    Smith became the fifth police chief in the city of Sanford in just two years.

    During the ceremony, Smith spoke about the challenges, and acknowledged that he would be under close watch.

    "It is my goal to be out in the community, walking and talking," Smith said.

    Smith acknowledged there is a distrust of police officers in Sanford and said his goal is to change that.

    Smith said he will not put up with racism or improper conduct within the Police Department.

    “I can’t tolerate racism in the Police Department, I can’t tolerate people being harassed by police officers, I need to make sure our officers are aboveboard and professional,” Smith said.

    Smith said that as Zimmerman's case goes to trial this summer, he will be working to memorialize the death of Martin while moving the city forward.

    "It's a matter of healing the community and making sure that a year from now, which will be two years passed that we've memorialized the situation and that we have people in place making sure people are moving forward within the city here," said Smith.

    He's also working with his command staff since accepting the position in February to ensure that cases are handled properly in the future.

    "The sheriff and I even this morning indicated that we'd sit down in the next few weeks and look at what the plans are with regards to how that's going to be handled," Smith said.

    More immediately, Smith's challenge is handling gun violence in the city after a rash of shootings in the past six months.

    "When people understand that your community is safe, they want to get off that train and spend money in your community. That's extremely big with what we should be doing going forward," Smith said.

    Smith said he has a five-year plan to create opportunities for officers to advance within the department and strengthen the desire of law enforcement officers to want to work in Sanford.

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