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New mayor means big change for Lakeland City Hall

2:58 PM, Jan 6, 2014   |    comments
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Lakeland, Florida -- Of the 200-plus people who came to see Lakeland's new mayor sworn in Monday morning, one may have stood out from the rest.

Out of uniform, but still clearly in charge of her department, Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack came to see the swearing in of new mayor, Howard Wiggs.

Wiggs is the man who has led the charge on Lakeland's City Commission to have her fired.

The oath he swore before a smiling crowd in a Lakeland Center ballroom made Wiggs mayor, but it does not mean the end for Chief Womack.

Wiggs alone does not have the power to replace her. He has to convince a majority of the seven city commissioners to make that move.

"I have not changed my position on that," Wiggs told 10 News. "I hope I can get the votes. I think they're justified -- the votes would be justified. That remains to be seen. I feel strongly that we do need to move forward without this police chief."

Last year, several scandals shook the Lakeland Police Department.

Sexual misconduct, botched cases, an on-duty officer accused of stalking and sexually assaulting a woman, and 911 dispatchers partying and posting lewd messages on social media, uncovered by the 10 News Investigators.

Around 15 employees have resigned or been fired. Wiggs still thinks the chief should be next.

We asked the incoming mayor, "If you can't remove the police chief, how do you move forward with that for the next four years?"

"You have to work with everybody. The police chief is a vitally important part -- component -- of our city," Wiggs replied.

"I will work with her. If the votes are not there, we'll do the best we can. We'll make it work."

The future of the city's police department is important, but the new mayor told 10 News his single biggest challenge will actually be dealing with the city's budget.

He plans to add to that an effort to reinvest in the arts and culture, as well as create several task forces to get the people of Lakeland more involved in their city.


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Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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