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Sanford, Fla., temporary police chief to launch department review

Sanford, Florida, the town at the center of the Trayvon Martin controversy, has named a new interim police chief, even as the prior chief remains on the payroll. The Grio's Joy-Ann Reid and msnbc's Thomas Roberts discuss.

SANFORD, FL -- Declaring that Sanford doesn't have the "luxury of time," the new interim Police Chief Richard Myers said on Friday he would launch an "a-to-z review" of the department and vowed to mend wounds opened by the Feb. 26 shooting of unarmed African-American teen Trayvon Martin.

"Sanford has gone through a highly traumatic event," Myers said in his first news conference here.


“We don't have the luxury of taking our time,” he continued. “Relationship building here is urgent work."

Myers began his post Friday, becoming the second man to lead the police department since its embattled chief, Bill Lee, stepped down temporarily in late March over questions about his department’s investigation into Martin’s death.

Lee continues on paid leave after the City Commission voted to reject his resignation nearly two weeks ago.

Myers will remain on the job for three to five months, pending completion of his review, city officials said.

Asked Friday if he would review decisions made by Lee in the wake of Martin's death, Myers demurred, saying those questions will be folded into his broad investigation of the department.

"If there are things that stick out to me as being problematic, we will probably have to take a deeper look at those things," Myers said, adding that he expects a thorough briefing on the Martin case.

But, he added, he is wary of running afoul of the state’s investigation into George Zimmerman, the community watch volunteer accused of second-degree murder in Martins death.

“Whatever I do in terms of a review of the department,” Myers continued, “I'm not going to do anything that can jeopardize the criminal prosecution.”

Myers replaced Sanford Police Capt. Darren Scott, who Friday morning looked on along with other city officials at the news conference outside city hall.

“I know how conflicted many of you are about the appointment of an interim chief who comes from outside the department,” Myers said in a statement directed at members of the Sanford police.

“I will do my best to provide you with quality professional leadership, and I ask that you demonstrate the same in following me,” he added.

Later, Myers faced questions from a local television reporter about his tenure in Colorado Springs, where, according to reports, two police officers were arrested in separate cases involving their personal lives about six months before Myers left his job.

“I don't connect those concerns," Myers said of the arrests and his subsequent exit.

"I was police chief in the 46th largest city in the country. Name a city in the top 50 that any week doesn't have a controversy in its police department," he added.

Myers said his exit followed the election of a new mayor with broadened power to replace department heads.

“We had a conversation, and he told me he was ready to move in a different direction,” Myers said of Colorado Springs mayor. “So I told him I would get out of the way.”

Norton Bonaparte Jr., the city manager here in Sanford, told reporters Friday he reached out to a number of candidates for the job. Pressed if other candidates were offered the job and turned it down, Bonaparte said no.

Earlier, Myers said he contacted his mentors and advisers when he received an invitation to meet with Bonaparte about moving into the middle of the tempest in Sanford.

"As an aside," Myers said, “I will tell you that many of my professional colleagues told me to turn and run in the opposite direction."

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