Polk State Attorney Jerry Hill presented what semeed like a courtroom case of recent statements from judges, court managers and assistant prosecutors that painted Lakeland PD as dysfunctional at a meeting in front of the City Commission Friday, Dec. 20, 2013.
Lakeland, FL -- It was supposed to be a public opportunity to mend fences between the city of Lakeland and Polk State Attorney Jerry Hill.
Instead it was an hour-long eye-opener about the problems Hill says still exist within the Lakeland Police department.
Hill was invited to make his case for criticism in front of the Lakeland City commission, and with all the skills of a seasoned state attorney, he did just that.
Hill presented what semeed like a courtroom case of recent statements from judges, court managers and assistant prosecutors that painted Lakeland PD as dysfunctional.
"There is a complete lack of leadership in your administration," said Hill.
As an elected official, sworn to ensure public safety, Hill said it was his duty to question competency at the top levels of Lakeland PD. Specifically Chief Lisa Womack.
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"The first myth is that the chief inherited all the problems she's had to deal with," Hill told commissioners. "And the second myth is that things are getting better."
To this point Chief Womack, who sat silently through Hill's scathing hour-long presentation, still has had the backing of enough council members to keep her job.
Afterward she offered only a brief reaction to the case Hill had made for her dismissal.
"Well, many of the cases that were brought up, I was unfamiliar with and so we'll be checking into all the information to find out why our follow up has not occurred," said Chief Womack.
Unwavering support for Womack may have cost outgoing mayor Gow Fields his job in last month's election.
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But Fields was still willing to defend the chief publicly. He pointed out her achievements as well.
"And I would say to you publicly, in front of everyone," Fields said to Hill, "we are making progress. It's not a campaign spiel because I'm on my way out of office."
"If in fact the reason you hired this individual was to get a certification that's been accomplished," hill countered. "Beyond that it's been woefully short."
The state attorney's powerful message undoubtedly reinforced the resolve of those who've argued chief Womack should be fired.
Whether it was convincing enough to make others re-consider their support will be seen when the new commission takes shape in 2014.
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