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The latest happenings in your city government.


LAKELAND, FL (January 30, 2014) - Late this afternoon I was provided a copy of the Investigative Summary from the State Attorney’s Office regarding their review of the hiring practices used for a 2012 Lakeland Police Department Public Safety Aide position.  The report raises serious allegations against Police Chief Lisa Womack regarding potential violations of Florida Statutesinvolving Official Misconduct, in addition to alleged deviations from Lakeland Civil Service and Personnel Policies and Procedures.  It is my understanding from a review of the Investigative Summary, that the State Attorney’s Office has closed its review of the matter and is not pursuing any further actions. 

In response to the State Attorney’s report, and consistent with City of Lakeland Personnel Policies, I have placed Chief Womack on paid Administrative Leave, pending further review of the report, including appropriate background documentation and statements which may have been used in reaching their findings.  In the interim, I have appointed Assistant Chief Larry Giddens as Acting Chief of Police pending the outcome of the City’s review on the matter.

Given that many of the allegations in the report concern administrative City of Lakeland Policies and Procedures, it is appropriate that the City review the matter further to determine if any violations of policies have occurred.  Any subsequent actions if indicated will be taken following the results of that review.

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STATEMENT FROM LAKELAND CITY MANAGER DOUG THOMAS
LAKELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT VOTE OF CONFIDENCE

I have just received the results of the non-binding votes regarding confidence in Chief Lisa Womack by unionized sworn and non-union civilian personnel in the Lakeland Police Department. 

It is important to note that the Chief of Police is not an elected position and the outcome of the voting does not result in her removal from her position as Chief of Police. However, the results of the vote are concerning because it represent the current pulse of both sworn and non-sworn Departmental personnel. 

I plan to meet with the leadership of the various employee groups at the Lakeland Police Department to discuss their feelings and concerns to better understand the particular issues that impacted their individual voting, especially among non-unionized civilian personnel.  I will also be meeting with Chief Womack to discuss her perspectives of tonight’s outcome and how she and the administration at the Lakeland Police Department can best address the concerns regarding the Department. 

The City will also gain further insight on particular issues that may have influenced tonight’s outcome from the employee survey process that is scheduled to be administered in the first quarter of 2014. These steps will help us further evaluate the direction the Department as we continue to work toward addressing employee and public concerns that LPD has faced over the past year. The Lakeland Police Department has a very dedicated staff and we appreciate their hard work and commitment to this community.

 


LPD Sergeant Brian McNabb Reinstated


State Attorney Jerry Hill issued Sgt. Brian McNabb a letter on September 16, 2013 stating that his office would no longer accept testimony from him in the 10th District unless he submitted to a polygraph. The City has reviewed the matter in greater detail and weighed the various options, legal considerations and potential outcomes, and as a result, has reached an agreement to retain him as a certified law enforcement officer with the LPD.


 

In his present capacity, Sgt. McNabb serves as a training officer for the department and coordinates the Mini-Academy, (in which he also provides instruction in the areas of physical fitness, weapons and other related programs, which does not include court testimony. It is very unlikely he would be called upon to testify let alone be the sole officer who would be called upon to testify in a criminal matter.  As such, there is little risk in him having to be called to court which could potentially impact his ability to testify in the 10th District.  


 

The agreement the City of Lakeland has reached with both Sgt. McNabb and the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association  (WCFPBA) is that while he will be returned to normal status, the Department has the right to take into consideration, the effect of the letter to the extent it remains in effect, when and if he becomes eligible for any assignment, transfer or promotion wherein the requirement to testify may be implicated.  While this criteria cannot be exercised arbitrarily or capriciously by the Chief of Police, both McNabb and the WCFPBA have agreed that they will not pursue an administrative appeal of any denial that is made in such a manner.


 

Chief Womack state that the agreement reached with city management, herself and the WCFPBA represents the best possible outcome for all parties involved in light of the particular circumstances.  


 

Attachment:   Letter Agreement signed by Sgt. McNabb, Chief Womack and the WCFPBA and the letter received from the State Attorney’s Office.


 

 

Media inquiries should be directed to 863.583-2357.

 


STATEMENT FROM LAKELAND CITY MANAGER DOUG THOMAS

REGARDING MEETING WITH STATE ATTORNEY JERRY HILL

 

The Lakeland City Commission asked me to schedule a private meeting with State Attorney Jerry Hill to discuss the status of Sergeant Brian McNabb and to explore ways to improve the relationship between the State Attorney’s Office and the Lakeland Police Department.  I believe the City of Lakeland and the State Attorney’s Office share a common interest in protecting our citizens and trust we can find an acceptable path to achieve that end.

 

It was and continues to be my expectation based upon the direction that I received from the Lakeland City Commission, that I would be meeting with Mr. Hill in private in the spirit of trying to resolve outstanding issues.  I was surprised when I found out late this afternoon that instead of a private meeting between the two of us, the media was also invited to attend without my knowledge.

 

I was under the impression that the meeting would between the two of us in an effort to explore options regarding Sergeant McNabb as well as other ways to improve relationships between the two agencies.   Similar to challenging collective bargaining negotiations, acceptable solutions often are achieved in less formal settings between parties.  My experience is that such an approach allows the principals the opportunity to frankly explore potential common ground as opposed to what is said in the formal trappings of a very public session.

 

Sergeant McNabb was issued a letter from the State Attorney stating that his office would no longer accept his testimony, which essentially is a career ending letter for a Police Officer.  Based on the results of the LPD’s Internal Investigation on Sgt. McNabb, the City desired the opportunity to discuss his status and the possibility of him testifying in the future.

 

It was not my intent nor do I believe the intent of the Lakeland City Commission to have me meet with State Attorney Jerry Hill in a public environment.  Accordingly, I believe I that it would be prudent to seek further direction from the City Commission on how to proceed.  We agreed that tomorrow’s meeting would be postponed and I have reiterated to Mr. Hill the City’s desire to have me meet with him at least initially in private to find solutions to our challenges.  To that end, I am fully prepared to meet with Mr. Hill at our earliest convenience and have asked him to reconsider his position on the format of such a meeting.