Sanford, Fla., Replaces Police Chief Bill Lee with African American

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“What we really need now,” said Norton Bonaparte, the Sanford City Manager–who recently interview Smith, its mayor, city manager and police in a discussion with The Sun Sentinel–“is a police chief who not only has the confidence of the police officers, but one who has an excellent rapport with the community.”

In a Wednesday afternoon interview with, Bonaparte said, “what I would hope is that (Smith) would do his very best in bridging the communications gap between the Sanford Police department and segments of the community.”

When asked if Smith, in the wake of the Travvon Martin killing, should be expected to cut through the anger and distrust among African Americans and, presumably, other residents, Bonaparte replied, “that would be my aspiration for Mr. Smith.”

But what if Smith cannot accomplish that goal? Will he be fired? Bonaparte was asked.  “We’ll continue to work on it,” Bonaparte said.

For comment Wednesday afternoon, placed calls to a wide range of African American leaders, including Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington Office, its Florida State Conference, the senior minister of Sanford’s St. James AME Church and the Vice President of the National Progressive Baptist Convention.

None were available for comment before this article was posted.

(Photo: AP)

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