Lakeland police chief facing scrutiny

8:03 PM, Aug 4, 2013   |    comments
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Facing the city commission for the first time since news broke of massive sexual misconduct at the Lakeland Police Department (LPD), Chief Lisa Womack said the agency is moving in the right direction toward rooting out all problems.



LAKELAND, Florida -- A member of the recently created Lakeland Advisory Commission confirms he was not aware of any onsite interviews in Elgin, Illinois about Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack prior to her hiring in Lakeland.

The member, Jim Sewell, was on the selection board during the hiring process of Chief Womack for the position of Lakeland police chief. 

A local newspaper, The Ledger, reported Lakeland City officials knew about a sex scandal in one of the previous cities she was also chief of police in, Elgin, Illinois. 

It was public information in the spring of 2010. The article said Lakeland officials "never asked to see a 700-page report into the investigation surrounding it. That led a police consultant to question whether Lakeland did a thorough search in hiring Womack."

Sewell commented to 10 News after reading the Ledger's article.

He said, "The Ledger's information raises a concern over whether we want to look at the chief selection process during our next meeting. When I was a part of her hiring, I was not aware of any onsite interviews in Elgin. When I was being hired for Chief of Police in Gulf Port, the Sheriff's Office went onsite to my last job and interviewed there. They use different agencies to do the interviews for chief of police positions. I do know though that Womack was honest and upfront about her choosing to resign in Elgin. The city manager she said was forcing her to resign or be fired at that time, and she explained her resignation had nothing to do with that sex scandal that had gone on there at the same time." 

According to the Ledger, the scandal in Elgin involved a deputy chief and a sergeant. The sergeant was married to a lieutenant at the time in the same police department.    

10 News reached out to the Lakeland mayor and other city officials, including commissioners, but they either did not return our calls or were not available for comment.  The chief of police was out of the state.

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