Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack says she's 'not afraid' of losing her job

3:53 PM, Sep 28, 2013   |    comments
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Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack

Lakeland, Florida - Is it a climate of trust, or a culture of corruption? Is it a mess that can be fixed, or a chaotic situation too far gone?

Heavy questions are looming when it comes to law enforcement in Lakeland.

The Lakeland Police Department has been living under a cloud of scandal throughout the summer and early fall. 10 News has reported on multiple stories of embarrassing incidents within the agency - including everything from a bra-shaking traffic stop to a sex scandal amid employees, allegations of sexual battery and accusations that DUI cases are not handled properly.

SEE ALSO: Surprising 911 calls released in Lakeland Police officer sex arrest

So, is the public losing trust? Can the Lakeland Police Department survive another scandal, or is it too late?

Police Chief Lisa Womack is coming out front and center, maintaining that her agency can be trusted wholeheartedly. 

At the same time, she's also denying that she is in fear of losing her job. 

"Absolutely not," she told 10 News when asked if she was afraid of being fired. "I come to work every day to serve." 

When asked if the public can still trust her agency, she gave a resounding "yes," and added, "They've always trusted us. It's the media that perpetuates the perception that the public doesn't trust us. Please stop doing that."

However, if you ask State Attorney Jerry Hill, you'd get a totally different answer.

SEE ALSO: State attorney calls out Lakeland Police Chief

In a scathing letter, Hill ripped the department apart calling it, "dysfunctional, embarrassing and broken."  He also described the current status of LPD as, "Rome is burning."

Read the State attorney's full letter here (PDF)

When asked if Chief Womack would be fired he said, "I won't use the word 'fired'. I"m not going to cross that line. Maybe there's other places she can serve."

Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields told the media during a news conference Friday he stands firmly behind Chief Womack and that she will not be fired.  

"Mr. Hill is entitled to his opinion. We believe in due process here. The majority of people trust us. We are taking methodical steps to make changes," said Mayor Fields, in reference to recent scandals.

More details on Lakeland PD sex scandal

With all the mess and chaos, some people are asking if there should be new leadership in the form of another agency taking over the Lakeland Police Department?

One name, in particular, has been mentioned - Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

SEE ALSO: Senator says Lakeland PD needs Sheriff Grady Judd

In an interview Friday afternoon, Sheriff Judd sat down with 10 News and elaborated on the situation.  

"I've heard the rumors. But, Melanie, I am not interested in that job, and no one has asked me to do it. I'm always here to help if they need it, I will give advice if they want it," he started with a smile. "But, I have not been asked to take over. Lakeland has great officers- great men and women who serve."

When asked about the public losing trust in Lakeland PD, Judd said, "It is easier to lose trust than to gain it."

As she approaches her third year anniversary at the agency, Chief Womack told 10 News, its business as usual. 

"We will keep serving the people."

And, that scathing letter from the State Attorney? She says it's personally motivated.  

"It's widely known. He doesn't like me."

Despite the negative reviews of the Lakeland Police Department and its chief, a rally is being held by residents in support of Chief Womack. From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 28, residents are showing their support for chief in front of the Lakeland Police Department. 

Follow 10 News Reporter Melanie Michael on twitter @WTSPMelanie


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