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Crime & Courts

Lakeland police advisory panel makes recommendations


Published:   |   Updated: October 21, 2013 at 09:41 AM

A citizens panel charged with looking into recent scandals at the Lakeland Police Department presented its final report to the city commission this morning.

The Lakeland Police Advisory Committee made several recommendations to improve the deparment but did not suggest that Police Chief Lisa Womack or City Manager Doug Thomas be fired.

The 21 recommendations call for better police communications with the media and state attorney’s office, an audit by outside experts, a survey of city employees and improvements in the human relations department.

The committee met Friday to make final changes to the 15-page report before today’s presentation.

The 10-member panel, appointed by Mayor Gow Fields in June and chaired by area businessman Bruce Abels, has met 11 times.

“We have studied carefully the mountain of documents, policies, reports and case files that we requested from the City and the Police Department,” the report reads. “We have individually talked to citizens, police chaplains, City employees and police officers. We have read citizen letters (some anonymous) and heard public input. We have heard extended testimony from the City Manager, Chief of Police and other City employees and had hours of conversation and questions with them.”

The committee did not talk to State Attorney Jerry Hill, who has written extremely critical letters about the department and recommended the termination of Womack.

The police department has been rocked by several high-profile investigations, including a sex scandal involving several officers, an officer asking a woman to shake out her bra during a traffic stop, the arrest of an officer on rape charges, reports of retaliatory practices in the human relations department, a report of possible nepotism involving Womack’s nephew and a grand jury inquiry into the department’s handling of public records.

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