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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Sanford police chief firing cowardly, wrong

The firing of Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee by Sanford, Fla., City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. is outrageous (“Police chief fired over Trayvon Martin shooting,” Web, Thursday).

Chief Lee, a highly respected, veteran law enforcement official, did nothing wrong. He was doing his job professionally and honorably when he was forced to step aside in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s death. Those critics who may blame Chief Lee for George Zimmerman not being arrested immediately following the incident lack knowledge and concrete facts to recognize and understand that it was determined at the time that no probable cause existed to enable him to do so.

Chief Lee has now become victimized by apparent political underpinnings, the groundswell of a controlling street mentality, the racial bias of various community factions and the desire of Mr. Bonaparte to save his own political skin in the trenches of the community - all of which have swelled to disproportionate and destructive proportions.

Perhaps what Chief Lee has going against him is the fact that he is Caucasian and that fact alone may cause consternation among some community leaders who may hypothesize that he cannot handle an issue involving the African-American community.

Mr. Bonaparte’s contention that Chief Lee lost the trust of officials and created divisiveness is a pathetic attempt to explain away his cowardly action. Mr. Bonaparte has shown no courage in standing by the police chief in the wake of controversy. Instead he has weakly bowed to community pressure and seemingly subjected himself to political manipulation. He has demonstrated that he is far from a fearless leader.

Mr. Bonaparte’s claim that “many law enforcement officials who will find accepting the opportunity to serve as Sandford’s police chief a welcome challenge for their careers” is an insult to Chief Lee and other law enforcement officials who could similarly have been caught up in the same circumstances had they been in Chief Lee’s position at the time.

KAREN L. BUNE

Adjunct professor

Department of Justice, Law and Society

George Mason University

Fairfax

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