ORLANDO, Fla. -- The former police chief of Colorado Springs, Colo., has been hired as the new interim chief in Sanford, Fla., City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. announced Tuesday.
Richard W. "Rick" Myers, a 35-year law enforcement veteran, will take over Sanford's troubled police department, which has been criticized for the way it handled the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was killed by crime-watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
Sanford had been searching for someone to temporarily run its police department since March, when Chief Bill Lee stepped aside temporarily. Capt. Darren Scott, a 22-year veteran of the department, has been serving as acting chief, and Lee remains on paid leave.
The teen's family, national civil rights leaders and many Sanford residents have called for Lee's permanent removal.
As city manager, Bonaparte oversees the city's police department and does not need the City Commission's approval to hire an interim chief. However, commissioners will have to approve a compensation package.
Myers, 57, also served as chief in Appleton, Wis., and in suburbs of Chicago and Detroit. He is a 35-year law enforcement veteran. A native of Rochester, Mich., he retired about six months ago as chief in Colorado Springs. He was forced out of the job by the mayor's desire to "change direction," according to the city's newspaper. Myers left following several controversies, including the arrest of two officers, one of whom was charged with molesting children.
Another controversy involved an undercover police sting at the restaurant chain Hooters.
Myers was not immediately available for an interview.
Sanford city officials have scheduled a news conference for Friday morning at City Hall to introduce Myers as the interim chief.
Myers was hired as Colorado Springs chief in 2007, taking over the leadership role from a predecessor who was driven from the post by a scandal involving lost evidence. Myers was lauded by the president of the Colorado Springs Police Protective Association for improving trust between police administration and rank-and-file officers.
According to a biography released by the city of Sanford, Myers began his policing career in 1977 in suburban Detroit. He served first as a patrol officer and then as an investigator for a medical examiner's office.
He was appointed to his first chief's position in 1984.
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