Questions linger over troubled Lakeland police - WFLA News Channel 8

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Questions linger over troubled Lakeland police

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LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields is once again answering some tough questions about the city's investigation into Lakeland's Police Department. This time though it's his own, self-appointed Citizen's Advisory Commission in the spotlight.

7/22/2013 Related Story: Town hall meeting brings out emotions, questions in Lakeland

Despite resignations from both of the panel's co-chairs, Fields says the commission is ready and eager to get to work. "We do have a lot of talent that remains on the commission. We look forward to their work," he said.

Polk State College president Dr. Eileen Holden and former Lakeland mayor Joe P. Ruthven both submitted resignation letters yesterday.

Both pledged their continued support to the efforts of the commission, but Holden in particular cited concerns about the "ambiguity that lingers with respect to (the panel's) status relative to the sunshine law".

Mayor Fields aimed to clear up those concerns today by telling reporters the commission will be meeting in public.

"We need to try to identify how can we allow them to have all their meetings in the public, but at the same time give them the ability to receive input from some members of the public who themselves didn't want to be in front of a microphone or a camera, and that's what we're struggling to strike a balance on," Fields said.

7/17/2013 Related Story: Lakeland police DUI cases called into question

The citizen commission is taxed with some very specific objectives including improving what Fields describes as the "speak up" culture at the Lakeland Police Department. Many in the community question how a sex scandal, dating back at least 13 years, involving a civilian employee and 10 sworn officers could go on undectied and unreported for so long.

7/15/2013 Related Story: Two Lakeland police sergeants fired over sex scandal

"We also wanted some input on how can we improve the speak up culture in the community and making sure citizens know when they bring a complaint either to city hall or to the police department that they can trust us to fix it, fairly hear it, understand it and the respond appropriately to it," Fields said.

The first Citizen's Advisory Commission meeting is set for Thursday July 25th at 3:30pm. It will be held in the city commission chambers at city hall in downtown Lakeland. The meeting is open to the public.

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