SANFORD, Fla. - A day after a rally that drew thousands of protesters, the city of Sanford is now looking into ways to restore confidence in its police department and restore its reputation after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watchman.
The city manager and acting police chief in Sanford spoke briefly outside of City Hall Tuesday afternoon.
They say while morale in the department remains high, they heard in Monday's city commission meeting that confidence in the department is low.
Tuesday the Sanford city manager vowed to begin moving his city's police department out of the shadow of suspicion cast by the Martin case.
"I am now in the process of working with the Department of Justice to institute a mechanism where citizens who have concerns and complaints about the Sanford police department can have their concerns investigated by an independent agency," said City Manager Norton Bonaparte.
A promise--but no details on whether law enforcement officials, citizens or a combination would sit on the independent agency.
A day after the latest rally in Sanford demanding the arrest and prosecution of George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of Martin, one city resident is speaking out. Wolfgang Halbig is defending the local police department
"The problem is we don't know the entire facts of what happened," says Halbig.
Halbig says he's a retired state law enforcement officer, a claim that could not be independently verified. He argues police did nothing wrong in their initial shooting probe. "Those guys should not be crucified for doing their job."
He produced a police report that we later obtained independently. It lists the offenses allegedly committed by Zimmerman. They include homicide, negligent manslaughter, unnecessary killing to prevent an unlawful act.
"The chief should have never got fired because he had the charge he did his homework," Halbig said.
Sanford police Chief Bill Lee did not get fired, he temporarily stepped down from his job.
"Billy Lee, who is the police chief, is the most trustworthy and honest police officer and will do the right thing on behalf of the people of Sanford," says Halbig.
In the meantime a police department mired in controversy vows to move forward.
"We will remain status quo we have a job to do and that is to serve the citizens of this community," said acting police chief Darren Scott.
The controversy and questions continue to grow. Even with the police report in hand, Sanford police originally said Florida's "Stand your Ground" law meant they could not make an actual arrest.
Why the local prosecutor chose not to file charges directly also remains in dispute. The finger-pointing goes on, so does the cry for answers as all sides now wait for a grand jury to convene and for the outcome of a federal investigation.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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