Questions arise over choice of Lakeland PD Interim Chief - WFLA News Channel 8

Questions arise over choice of Lakeland PD Interim Chief

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Jimmy Mock Jimmy Mock

Some Lakeland commissioners are second-guessing the city manager's pick for an interim Lakeland police chief.

Others say the commission must back the man they chose to hire and fire.

The back-and-forth went down at the Lakeland City Commission meeting Monday morning.

Assistant Chief Larry Giddens is leading the force after Chief Lisa Womack was placed on administrative leave throughout an investigation into a 2012 hiring practice.

Larry Giddens is accused of making threatening statements to a retired officer of the department. And that man says Giddens does not have the character to lead a problem-ridden department.

Jimmy Mock is not in uniform these days, but that doesn’t mean he’s done with the Lakeland Police Department.

“It's a family tradition,” Mock said. “My dad retired in good standing, I retired in good standing and that's the way I would like it to go down in history."

But Mock says an interaction with Interim Chief Larry Giddens last year threatened his future with the department.

“He advised me that if I didn't stop posting on Facebook that I would lose my status in retirement of good standing,” Mock said.

Mock said Giddens warned him his continued negative Facebook posts about the department would also mean he would not be invited to the annual retiree dinner or would he be allowed inside the station, other than to file a complaint at the front desk.

It’s a situation that has some Lakeland leaders, including Mayor Howard Wiggs questioning the placement made by the City Manager.

“Anytime we have someone heading a department like the police department who has potentially done something rises to the point of an investigation, that concerns me,” Wiggs said.

Giddens is not allowed to comment about the investigation but a spokesman for the department said they are cooperating fully with the internal investigation. There’s no timeline on when it will be complete. It started in October.

Giddens, who began his law enforcement career with Lakeland Police Department in 1984 has earned numerous promotions and awards in his tenure, including Officer of the Year twice and TOP SWAT Cop in 1998.

Related Content: Lakeland Police Chief Womack resigns

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