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Ian McColgin
04-23-2012, 08:06 PM
Synopsis from CommonDreams:

04.23.12 - 7:35 PM
Invaded: Sanford Rejects Police Chief Resignation
by Abby Zimet

Choosing to blame not the police but outside agitators seeking "their 15 minutes" of publicity - who should "be shown the finger and shown the door" - Sanford city commissioners refused the resignation of Police Chief Bill Lee for mistakes made in the Trayvon Martin shooting. On the same day that George Zimmerman was released from jail, audience members applauded as officials argued neither Sanford nor its police force is racist, the city "was invaded" by outside forces, and "the only thing Chief Lee is guilty of is a bad press conference."

Ian McColgin
04-24-2012, 10:33 AM
One hopes this does not re-escalate racial tensions. Not at all oddly, the NYT has more depth:

By SERGE F. KOVALESKI and JENNIFER PRESTON
Published: April 23, 2012

SANFORD, Fla. — Several hours after the city manager publicly announced that he had reached an agreement with Chief Bill R. Lee Jr. to resign over the Sanford Police Department’s handling of the Trayvon Martin shooting case, the City Commission voted late Monday afternoon to reject Chief Lee’s resignation.

Mayor Jeff Triplett was among a 3-to-2 majority of commissioners to vote “no confidence” in Chief Lee last month, prompting him to temporarily step aside. But during a special meeting Monday to consider Chief Lee’s future, Mr. Triplett was clearly torn amid a spirited debate punctuated with applause and standing ovations from backers of the chief in the audience.

In the end, Mr. Triplett voted in favor of Chief Lee’s remaining in the department, once again as part of a 3-to-2 majority. He said he wanted to review the reports of an independent investigation about the Police Department’s handling of the case before making a decision.
“I am not ready to have him come back and run the Police Department,” Mr. Triplett said. “But I am not ready for this, either.”

According to a copy of the agreement, Chief Lee acknowledged no wrongdoing. In the three-page document, he explained*that he was resigning at the suggestion of the city manager, Norton N. Bonaparte Jr., “solely to allow the city to move beyond recent events.”

The agreement said Chief Lee would receive several lump-sum payments on May 4, including one equal to 98 and one-quarter days of pay and one for 217 hours of accrued leave. Mr. Bonaparte said in a brief interview Monday night that the agreement would have been worth $54,000 to Chief Lee.

Chief Lee stepped aside on March 22, after just 10 months in the job, amid local protests and a national uproar that raised questions about why the Sanford police did not immediately arrest George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, for shooting and killing Mr. Martin on Feb. 26. Mr. Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, had been walking through a gated development where Mr. Zimmerman, 28 and Hispanic, lived and where Mr. Martin was staying as a guest.

Early Monday, Mr. Zimmerman, who was charged with murder by a special prosecutor, was released from jail on a $150,000 bond. His whereabouts remained a secret — he may be outside Florida — because of death threats, his lawyer said.

Before the commission voted, Mr. Bonaparte said that “the city has experienced great turmoil in the past two months” and that “we are hoping to stabilize the department and continue with this time of healing.”

With the Sanford City Commission rejecting the separation agreement, Mr. Bonaparte, who has been on the job only since September, said Chief Lee would remain on administrative leave, and on the payroll, while the city conducted a national search for an interim police chief and pursued an independent investigation. In the meantime, Capt. Darren Scott will remain the acting chief.

Patty Mahany, a city commissioner who voted against the resignation agreement, praised Chief Lee during the debate, saying he was one of the finest law enforcement officials in Florida. “At least the city has taken a step back and a deep breath,” she said, insisting that the storm around the case was driven by outsiders.

Velma H. Williams, the only black member of the City Commission, voted in favor of the resignation. She said her lack of confidence in the chief was largely based on the department’s handling of the investigation, saying it “brought national shame to this city.”

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Martin family, said, “If Chief Bill Lee had recognized that his resignation would help start the healing process in Sanford, city leadership should have accepted it in an effort to move the city forward.”

Serge F. Kovaleski reported from Sanford, and Jennifer Preston from New York.

Mad Scientist
04-24-2012, 10:42 AM
Seems to me that 'administrative leave' is the way to go. IIRC, it's a common practice when a public official is embroiled in controversy. Gives a chance for tensions to settle, that sort of thing.

Tom

Curtism
04-24-2012, 11:08 AM
I agree with Tom that they made the right move here.

What I'm waiting to see is the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say, on who all got invloved with this case early on. An investigator with the Sanford police wanted to press charges the night of the homicide but was prevented from doing so by a DA and higher ranking police officials. The details of how all that played out are sketchy at this point but I'd like to see who pulled which strings back in February. It's likely that someone on the city council knew there was more at work here than the Cheifs "mishandling of the case".

I'll not hold my breath in the meanwhile.

David W Pratt
04-24-2012, 01:48 PM
So far it would make a good screenplay, and you could end it with "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, have you reached a verdict?" "Yes, Your Honor, we have... (fade to black).