The Sanford Police Department is looking forward to making drastic changes beginning with a new chief. Cecil Smith, a 51-year-old 25-year law enforcement veteran from Egin, Ill., who served as deputy chief of police there, is African American and was sworn in on Monday.
Smith was sworn in as a replacement for former police Chief Bill Lee, who was let go last spring following the investigation of the Trayvon Martin shooting.
Understanding the job he accepted comes with great responsibility, Smith plans to not only command the police force but also improve the overall relationship between police and the people they are supposed to protect.
“I can’t tolerate racism within the police department,” Smith said. “I can’t tolerate people being harassed by police officers.”
The new chief plans to build community and unite the people of Sanford.
“Any chief needs to set a tone and a direction for the police department,” Smith said. “I can’t attest to the things that happened prior to me being here. There are things I’m going to have to deal with at some point.”
Smith has been receiving a great deal of support and the Sanford community is eager to see some changes.
“Seems he’s ready to move us in the right direction,” said longtime NAACP leader Turner Clayton. “They’ve been divided so long, the morale has been down for so long, I hope he can get in there, improve the morale and get the department moving in the right direction.”
Smith hopes to implement a sense of integrity, trust and professionalism, while also making the streets of Sanford as safe as possible.
He was selected among 76 applicants, and will lead a force of 132 officers for a reported salary of $114,757.