Senator: Lakeland Police Dept. needs Sheriff Judd

11:04 PM, Jul 2, 2013   |    comments
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LAKELAND, Florida - The fallout surrounding the alleged Lakeland Police sex scandal continues.

On Tuesday, the Polk County Legislative Delegation sent a letter to Mayor Gow Fields, saying in part, "This culture has unfortunately eroded the public's confidence in the Lakeland Police Department."

It goes on to say, "Our recommendation is to invite Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd to work with city officials to make the proper reforms to the Lakeland Police Department."

Senator Kelli Stargel is one of the eight delegates. She says, "I believe it's unsafe for our current officers to be out there when the public doesn't have confidence in our law enforcement." 

Confidence in the police department does appear to be an issue. Monday night, Lakeland residents took their concerns directly to Lakeland's police chief, Lisa Womack.

From the controversy over a female driver being pulled over and asked to pull out and shake her bra during a traffic stop to the alleged culture of sex and lude behavior involving at least 10 police officers over a period of seven years, Senator Stargel says enough is enough. She adds that her phone has been ringing off the wall from concerned citizens.

She says the delegation feels that Sheriff Grady Judd could be the answer, and they're appealing to the mayor of Lakeland, Gow Fields, to make it happen. Stargel adds, "He understands this community, and his law enforcement agency has a lot of respect in our community."

She says the issue is restoring public trust fast without paying some out of town consultant taxpayer dollars to do the job. Stargel says, "We need to act more judiciously and quickly now so we can make sure our current law enforcement officers who are out on the streets when they pull somebody over that person is not questioning, 'Is this an officer I feel has integrity and confidence that I can trust?'"

Stargel says, "What Sheriff Grady Judd understands is how important confidence is when a person is either pulling you over on the side of the road or coming into your home to investigate a situation. You have to believe in the integrity of that, the integrity of that of that individual, and when that's in question it causes a problem for everyone."

Mayor Fields is asking citizens to be patient. He says two officers and one civilian employee have already resigned from the police department. 

He says he's spoken with Sheriff Grady Judd, who is supportive of the Internal Affairs investigative process and will make his agency available if needed. Sheriff Judd, meanwhile, says he grew up in Lakeland and if the police department needs the sheriff's office's help, they're willing and able to do so.

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