• Sanford police chief suspends vacations, furloughs until Zimmerman verdict


    SANFORD, Fla. - Sanford police officers have been going through weeks of meetings and training to prepare for George Zimmerman's trial next month, Eyewitness News learned Thursday.

    Channel 9's Karla Ray was the first reporter to sit down with Chief Cecil Smith when he accepted the position. He told her his staff is ready for the biggest trial the city has seen.

    Smith said his officers will all be working until there's a verdict. Until that time, vacations and furloughs are suspended.

    "We are not closing down the city for anyone," Smith said.

    Smith hasn't been on the job for two full months yet, but he said he has been preparing every day for the biggest event in his long law enforcement career.

    Channel 9 learned his commands staff went through special training last week with the Department of Justice to make sure they're policing protests and rallies that come with the trial fairly and safely.

    "We want people to understand they have the right to assembly, but it needs to be done in a peaceful manner," Smith said.

    Smith said most activity will be at the courthouse, where crews were preparing Thursday for the media that will come in to town.

    Even though the area is technically county jurisdiction, Smith said his officers will be there, too.

    Channel 9 learned the department will activate an incident command center should anything get out of control while the case goes through the court.

    Smith said he hopes the community will remain peaceful over the next two months.

    Smith has been working closely with the Seminole County Sheriff.

    The Sheriff's Office said Thursday they are still finalizing their plans for staffing the trial

    Check back with Channel 9 to find out when those plans are completed.

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    Sanford police chief suspends vacations, furloughs until Zimmerman verdict