Sanford interim police chief speaks to community

Richard Myers: Relationship building is urgent work

Published On: May 09 2012 12:12:15 PM EDT   Updated On: May 09 2012 11:06:44 PM EDT
sandford meeting 3
SANFORD, Fla. -

Sanford's new police chief stepped in front of his community for the first time and faced tough questions about his integrity, experience and potential handling of the Trayvon Martin case.

For Chief Richard Myers, the big picture is clear: the Martin case was the catalyst, but racial tension has been brewing the in city for years.

"My sense is the issues afoot in the community are bigger than just that one case," said Myers at a Citizen's Advisory Board meeting Wednesday night.

Myers admits he does not yet have a plan for how to resolve the racial problems between residents and police, but said his goal will be to build bridges.

That's not enough for people with growing distrust of police, like Robin Riggins who, after the meeting, said she does not think Myers understands the problems.

"He has no grasp. He has no idea," Riggins said.

Myers said he met with Chief Bill Lee, who remains on a leave of absence in the fallout from the Martin case.

When Local 6 asked if the two men discussed the Martin case, he replied, "I would say in very broad and ambiguous terms... There was nothing I was going to ask that would in any way jeopardize the case and there was nothing he was going to offer that would do that."

Myers said Lee offered to give him advice, but he's not sure how much he'll take.

He admits he has not yet read the "Stand Your Ground" law, has not reviewed the Martin case, and still needs clarification about how he'll report to the city manager, but he said he'll be glad to meet with the public to respond to questions, every month.

"Why are we paying him $10,000 a month to basically go to meetings?" asked Riggins, who wonders what substantive changes Myers will make in the 3 to 5 months he's interim chief.