57 Applicants for Sanford Police Chief Job

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) _ Fifty-seven applicants are vying to lead the police force at the center of the Trayvon Martin investigation last February.

The new chief of the Sanford Police will be chosen early next year.

The previous fulltime chief, Bill Lee, took a leave of absence in March and was fired last June following outrage over a delay in arresting former neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman is charged with fatally shooting the 17-year-old Martin last February during a confrontation at a gated community.

Zimmerman is pleading not guilty, claiming self-defense under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

Protesters around the nation demanded Zimmerman’s arrest.

The Sanford Police Department was accused of racism and incompetence before Zimmerman was arrested 44 days after the shooting.