Fmr. Lakeland officer: why is acting police chief not on leave? - WFLA News Channel 8

Fmr. Lakeland officer: why is acting police chief not on leave?

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Larry Giddens was promoted to acting police chief after Chief Lisa Womack was put on administrative leave. Larry Giddens was promoted to acting police chief after Chief Lisa Womack was put on administrative leave.
Former police officer Don Bell wants to know why Giddens is not on leave. Former police officer Don Bell wants to know why Giddens is not on leave.
LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

A retired Lakeland police officer wants to know why the acting police chief, Larry Giddens, was not stripped of his gun, badge and car when Giddens was named at the center of two internal affairs investigations.

Others named in investigations recently have lost those privileges.

Larry Giddens was promoted to acting police chief when Chief Lisa Womack was placed on administrative leave over accusations that led to an investigation.

City Manager Doug Thomas explained: “She’s [Womack] entitled to due process like any other city employee,” Thomas said in January. “That's the process we used. It puts someone on paid administrative leave until we have the opportunity to review the allegations in particular,” he said.

Former police officer Don Bell came before commissioners this week wondering why that process did not apply to Giddens.

"But Mr. Giddens gets promoted temporarily to Chief of Police!" Bell said.

We took Bell's questions to City of Lakeland Spokesman Kevin Cook.

“We don't treat anyone any different,” Cook said. “We take a police officer's badge and gun based on the severity of the allegations. If it's criminal in nature, we take their gun and badge as they're being investigated.”

Cook says each is judged on a case-by-case basis.

“If we took the gun and badge away from every officer that had a minor complaint, there's a chance you'd have a lot of officers off the street,” he said.

Cook said he can't comment on specifics of the accusations against Acting Chief Giddens but said both investigations involving him are in the final stages. In the coming weeks, he said, the public will have a clearer understanding of the city's decision to keep Giddens on the job.

"Based on what you said, in Giddens’ investigations, the complaints are minor,” News Channel 8 stated.

“That is correct,” Cook responded.

As part of policy, no one from the Lakeland Police Department could comment on the investigations.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.

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