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.