First and foremost my heartfelt sympathy goes out to Trayvon Martin’s family for the tragic loss of their child. I cannot imagine the grief they must be experiencing and clearly understand their need for wanting to know exactly what happened. I sincerely hope that they get the answers they are seeking.
I have been contacted by numerous media outlets asking me to comment on this incident and have refused to do so because, after having been the Mayor of Sanford for almost six years, I know how frustrating it is to have my decisions second guessed by individuals who did not have all of the facts surrounding my decision.
Additionally, my family asked me not to get involved out of fear for my and their safety and I had to respect their wishes; until I saw an article online today in which the Mayor stated that he had gone against the advice of the State Attorney regarding releasing the 911 tapes.
After seeing Mayor Jeff Triplett standing on the steps of the Department of Justice and jokingly say that he was only a “part-time” Mayor and that his expertise was not in this field and he had to rely on others with more experience regarding these matters, I became quite concerned.
Exactly what does that mean? Does he think that absolves him of any responsibility regarding this matter? If he wanted to defer to the experts in this field then why did he not listen to those experts? Why did he order the Sanford Police Department to release the 911 tapes after he was told by the State Attorney not to do so?
There was a hearing scheduled for the release of the 911 tapes to be heard by a Circuit Judge on March 19, why would he not have waited for the court to make that decision? Yet, he ordered SPD to release the tapes on Friday, March 16.
Jeff Triplett has stated on many occasions that there have been “missteps” regarding this case. What is he basing that statement on? He has admittedly not read the case package for this incident.
Good management decisions should not be made or dictated by a mob mentality but should be based upon reasonable, sound, justified and well thought out facts. Good management stands behind their staff and employees until substantiated evidence is presented that there was wrongdoing.
Jeff Triplett’s decisions have been dictated by a few outsiders. While I understand his desire to allow people to be heard it does not mean that he should sit by and allow this city to be demonized.
Not once has he defended this city and its 53,000 residents against the outrageous statements made by Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Ben Jealous et al regarding Sanford being a racist city. I have yet to hear him be outraged or even defend “his city” when Ben Jealous, head of the National NAACP, went on Meet the Press this past Sunday and stated that the KKK was alive and well in Sanford.
Admittedly, the City of Sanford made some very ugly, terrible racially motivated decisions before and during the era of integration. No one will deny the lasting ramifications of those decisions. But that doesn’t mean that racism is still alive and well in the City of Sanford.
I have spoken to many residents in the last few weeks, both black and white, and not one person has said that they believed that racism was rampant in Sanford – not one. What they have said is that they are heartbroken that our city has been portrayed in such an ugly and hateful manner.
Sanford was on the precipice of changing its long-standing negative image. This has now set us back and significantly damaged those efforts and will require many years to overcome.
While I appreciate, understand and welcome the desire to address any “missteps” that might have occurred during the course of this investigation, I believe that this city would have and could have been better served to wait until those alleged “missteps” were clearly defined, wait until all of the facts are known and then take the appropriate action to address, rectify and assure everyone that those alleged “missteps” never occur again.