Rally to support Lakeland Police Department and chief

11:54 PM, Sep 28, 2013   |    comments
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Lakeland, Florida - A day after Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack was blasted about her leadership by state attorney Jerry Hills, a group of people gathered to show support in front of department headquarters on N. Massachusetts Ave. on Saturday.

In a letter to city manager Doug Thomas on Friday, Hills wrote, "The Lakeland Police Department under Chief Womack's leadership seems to be more of a threat than a protector of the public."

"It's a shame and a disgrace that our state attorney would say anything like he has said," blasted supporter Carolyn Croft.

Demonstrators held signs to announce that they will believe the chief is doing the job that she was brought in to do -- clean up the department.

"I do feel like that the good ol' boys are looking after each other and they're kind of just letting her have it," said Debra Strickland, a Womack supporter.

Also at today's event was the family of Arnulfo Crispin, the Lakeland police officer who was gunned down in the line of duty back in 2011.

"It's not good to see them bashing the chief in that nature. You know, what department is actually perfect in the state of Florida?" said the late officer's brother, Franke Crispin.

Womack insists the controversy surrounding Hills' statements have not impaired the department ability to serve the community.

"We are answering our calls for service; we're providing protection to citizens," said Chief Womack.

But there was at least one person on the rally sidelines who disagreed with that statement -- Commissioner and mayoral candidate Howard Wiggs.

"They are very distracted. I had four calls today from police officers who said it is very distracting," said Wiggs.

Demonstrators say they plan to continue more public displays of support for the chief in the future.

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