Lakeland PD Chief in hot seat with city commission over scandals - WFLA News Channel 8

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Lakeland PD Chief in hot seat with city commission over scandals

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LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

The Lakeland Police Department has been under fire for weeks for embarrassing scandals. Chief Lisa Womack tried to assure the city's commission Monday that she has things under control.

Womack said it's not all her fault because many of the problems began long before she became chief two years ago.

6/26/2013 Related Story: Lakeland Police Department sex investigation

"Regardless of when it started, it is discovered under my watch, and it is my responsibility to make sure that we respond appropriately," Womack told commissioners. "Never doubt that I have any reason to do anything but that."

6/28/2013 Related Story: Lakeland police officer has lengthy disciplinary file

Womack said the department was a mess when she took over. There was no formal training program, not enough accountability for excessive force, and disorganized discipline procedures. She said she's made positive changes and was disgusted to discover as many as 10 officers, including top brass, admitted to having sex on duty. The civilian employee at the center of the sex investigation says some of those encounters were forced.

"I'm struggling for an explanation just like everyone else. I'm appalled by those who chose to engage in this behavior. and I am equally appalled by those who knew about it and didn't come forward."

The sex scandal isn't the only problem at the police department. First, 8-on-your-side discovered problems with officer testimony during DUI trials. An officer said he had fellow officers notarize blank documents and fill in the details later.

6/20/2013 Related Story: FL investigates Lakeland police DUI procedures

Then, dash-cam video showed a police officer making a woman shake out her bra, as he looked for drugs. 8-on-your-side found another officer did the same thing.  At an evening "Chief's chat" session with a standing-room only crowd, Chief Womack said the type of search conducted by the officers is not standard.  "This is not a technique we teach. So how it has become something that may be used by officers is another thing that we're looking at" she said. 

Some people at the evening meeting expressed suspicions about dealing with Lakeland officers.  One woman said she would feel nervous getting pulled over.  But Chief Womack assured her, training is already in place to make sure bra shaking does not happen again.

6/20/2013 Related Story: Officials question Lakeland bra-shaking police search

Womack also assured the commission that none of this will be tolerated.

6/28/2013 Related Story: Lakeland Police officers react to scandals

"This bell cannot be unrung, but I can certainly make sure that those that have dishonored the Lakeland Police badge and uniform will no longer be Lakeland Police Officers."

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