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LAKELAND POLICE CHIEF CANDIDATE LIST NARROWED TO FINAL THREE

CONTACT: Kevin Cook, Director of Communications (863-834-6264)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LAKELAND, FL (December 2, 2014) -- The Lakeland Police Chief Search Advisory Committee met with the seven semifinalist candidates during panel interviews and after the process the group has been narrowed to three finalists that include Lakeland Interim Police Chief Larry Giddens, Brian Harris currently serving on the DeKalb County Police Department as Assistant Chief, and Tony Kirk serving on the Topeka, Kansas Police Department as Deputy Chief.
 
City Manager Thomas who sat in on the selection committee’s interviews said, “The committee had a tough decision today because of the high quality and credentials of the seven semifinalists, but following the interviews, and comparing the candidates to the ideal candidate profile, they narrowed the field to what they felt were the top three candidates that should advance to the next step of the selection process.”  He added, “I appreciate the hard work the committee has undertaken throughout the process in evaluating the strengths of each candidate and I am supportive of their recommendations regarding the top three finalists for the Police Chief position.”
 
The City would like to congratulate all the semifinalists for making the initial short list.  Thomas will conduct personal interviews starting tomorrow, Wednesday, December 3rd and will ultimately make the decision on the appointment of the successor Chief of Police later this month.
 
The following ten individuals were appointed by the City Manager to serve on the Advisory Police Chief Selection Committee:
 
Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor:  Over the course of her career, Chief Castor built a reputation for working side by side with residents, community leaders, business owners and neighboring law enforcement agencies to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in her community throughout her 30 year career. She was elected the first female president of a police academy class and 25 years later, became the first woman to lead the Tampa Police Department. She serves on the board of the Major City Chiefs Association and is a member of Harvard’s prestigious Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety. 
 
Mary Smith:  Prior to retiring in 2013, Ms. Smith served as Office Manager for Heartland Intergroup, a non-profit central office for Alcoholics Anonymous serving Polk, Hardee and Highlands Counties. She has been an active community volunteer, serving as Dixieland Historic Neighborhood Association President from 2009-2012; Neighborhood Association Coalition Vice President in 2011; Neighborhood Association Coalition President in 2012; current member of the Dixieland Community Redevelopment Authority and a member of the 2013 Lakeland Police Advisory Commission. 
 
Reverend Richard Richardson:  Reverend Richardson has a diverse background in both for-profit and not-for-profit corporations. He has worked in senior management positions for Digital Equipment, Polaroid, and General Electric Corporation. He later built on these management skills and along with his wife started United Homes for Children, Inc. a not-for-profit Human Service Agency, serving children within the foster care division of the Massachusetts Department of Social Services. He served on several Commissions under four Governors, including Supreme Court Commission Task force on Juvenile Justice, Department of Human Services Advisory Committee, Department of Youth Services Advisory Committee, and Chaired a Gubernatorial  Human Services Transition Team. Reverend Richardson and his wife have resided in Lakeland since 2003. He is an Ordained Minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church; a member of the Interdenominational Ministers Alliance (IMA) of Lakeland; and serves as a Commissioner of the Lakeland Housing Authority.
 
Stephanie Colon:  Ms. Colon has been employed in the banking industry for 17 years and currently serves as Assistant Vice President of Business Banking at Community Southern Bank.  She has actively volunteered on numerous civic boards and currently serves as Co-Chair of Emerge Lakeland, (a Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Central Florida Partnership for Young Professionals) and also serves on their Steering and Events Committees.  She was recently recognized as one of the “Polk Emerging Leaders” showcasing young professionals ages 21-42 for their community service.  She is also a recipient of the 2012 Girls Inc., "She Knows Where She's Going” award, Leadership Lakeland Class XXX graduate and Leadership Lakeland Alumni Association, in addition to service with numerous other local boards and organizations. 
 
Don Brown:  Mr. Brown currently serves as President of the Lakeland Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as well as the 3rd Vice President of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP.  He also currently serves as a Parent Outreach Coordinator with the Polk County School Board in addition to being a former educator, university recruiter for Bethune-Cookman University and retiree of the U.S Naval Reserve.
 
Tim Jackson:  Mr. Jackson currently serves as Chairman of the Board for the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce. Prior to his role as Chairman, he served the Chamber as a member of their Board of Directors, Executive Committee, and Vice-Chair Communications and Public Policy Committees. Tim has worked in the field of Construction Management and Real Estate Development since 1989.  In 2005 he moved to Lakeland and joined NuJak Companies and serves a variety of public sector clients within the construction management and real estate sectors.  He recently served as NuJak’s Project Executive in the partnership with Skanska USA on the construction of Florida’s new 12th public university, Florida Polytechnic University. He has been involved in numerous community organizations including service as Co-Chair of the 2013 Lakeland Police Advisory Commission, in addition to leadership roles with Habitat for Humanity, Lakeland Vision and the Polk Museum of Art.  He is Leadership Lakeland Class XV graduate, and a member of the Leadership Lakeland Alumni Association.
 
In addition to the above stakeholders, Thomas has also appointed the following City of Lakeland staff members to serve on the Advisory Committee:
 
Tim McCausland – City Attorney
Tony Delgado – Deputy City Manager
Brad Johnson – Assistant City Manager
Mark Farrington – Human Resources/Civil Service Director


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.

- END - 

 


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.