A former Colorado Springs police chief on Tuesday was named interim head of Sanford, Fla.'s police department as it continues its efforts to defuse tensions over Trayvon Martin's death.

Richard Myers will serve as interim chief while Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. remains on paid leave.

Lee temporarily stepped down from his post in March after receiving a vote of no confidence from the Sanford City Commission at the height of the furor surrounding Martin's death.

Lee faced stiff criticism over the decision not to immediately arrest George Zimmerman, the volunteer neighborhood watchman who says he shot Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old African American, in self-defense on Feb. 26 in a gated community in Sanford, an Orlando suburb.

He offered his permanent resignation last week, but it was rejected by city commissioners in a 3-2 vote.

Myers replaces Captain Darren Scott, who served as acting chief in Lee's absence.

"We Thank Captain Scott for his service to the City during these tumultuous times. He has been an exemplary leader," Sanford City manager Norton Bonaparte, Jr said in a statement. "The City welcomes the leadership of Interim Chief Myers."

Myers, a 35-year veteran of law enforcement, previously served as chief of police in Colorado Springs, as well as in communities in the suburbs of Detroit and Chicago.

Myers will begin leading the police department later this week, the city said.

In announcing his decision to temporarily step down on March 22, Lee said he stood by his department's investigation but said he decided to temporarily leave his post because he believed he had become a "distraction."

Zimmerman was taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder on April 11. He was released on $150,000 bond last month and is currently living at an undisclosed location, possibly outside of the state.

The six-week interval between Martin's death and Zimmerman's arrest sparked nationwide protests -- including a rally in Sanford led by Al Sharpton that attracted thousands -- about perceived racial injustice.

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