New Lakeland mayor vows action on police scandals - WFLA News Channel 8

New Lakeland mayor vows action on police scandals

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Howard Wiggs, mayor-elect of Lakeland Howard Wiggs, mayor-elect of Lakeland
LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

The city of Lakeland has a new mayor, and he's pushing for action on the recent scandals at the Lakeland Police Department.

Commissioner Howard Wiggs beat out incumbent mayor Gow Fields in the November 5th election. Wiggs says his first order of business is to push for the terminations or resignations of both Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack and City Manager Doug Thomas.

Wiggs has been a vocal critic of both city leaders throughout his campaign. The mayor-elect says recent problems and scandals at the Lakeland Police Department have been handled inadequately, and it's time for both Womack and Thomas to go as a result.

"Folks who really love this community and really care about this community will recognize at some point and time that the way were are going right now is not working," Wiggs said.

Related content:  more about Lakeland Police Department scandals

Wiggs has other items on his agenda as well. He says he wants to conduct a city-wide, anonymous survey of all employees at every level of city government.

"Cause I can promise you the guy that's working at the water plant has a whole different set of concerns and problems and worries than the head of the water department," Wiggs said.  He says the point of the survey is not just to identify deficiencies but to also find ways to improve the organization and the community as a whole.

Wiggs also wants to improve Lakeland's reputation among budding businesses.

"We have a reputation that instead of it taking 60 or 90 days to get a business open, which other jurisdictions are able to do, it takes six months or 12 months or 18 months," he said.

Other top priorities include improving communication and building consensus within City Hall and throughout the entire community, and Wiggs believes that will start with city commissioners.

"It's going to take a lot of people working together to make this happen, and part of that is the commission working together," Wiggs said.

This afternoon City Manager Doug Thomas issued a written statement regarding the election. It reads in part:

"As City Manager, I pledge to all the members of our City Commission that I will continue to do everything I can to help them find a consensus for leading our City forward.  Regarding the recent LPD issues, I have provided the City Commission a plan with specific, measurable steps for improvements.  It will be very important that we all work together on these steps."

Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack declined to comment on the mayor-elect's plan to remove for from the job.

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