Grand jury report blasts Lakeland Police Department

12:31 AM, Dec 14, 2013   |    comments
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Lakeland, Florida - A grand jury report rips Lakeland Police department Chief Lisa Womack.

The report states that "given the state of affairs that we found at the Lakeland Police Department, it would be appropriate to remove Lisa Womack as chief" over concerns about her "ability or willingness to follow and implement our recommendations,"

A focal point of the report is the department's public information offices.

It found "that LPD is too big to efficiently and expeditiously respond to public records requests."

As an example, the report pointed to three LPD investigators who went to public records posing as average citizens. In one case, the clerk only provided part of the requested information. The clerk reportedly broke the law by asking for the requestor's name and displayed lack of training in another case.

"We have changed the way we processed. We've changed the way we intake. We've changed the way we release documents," said Chief Lisa Womack when asked about the report during a press conference on Friday.

The report also questions the qualifications of public information officer Ann Dinges. It notes that her online degree, three consecutive short-termed employment tenures and that as of Feb. 13th 2013, Dinges did not know what a public record is or how Florida law defines it.

"She meets all of the qualifications and exceeds some," said the chief.

Dinges has worked for Chief Womack before ending up at LPD and has listed the chief on emergency contact forms.

The chief said that Dinges is properly accredited for the position to which she was hired back in 2011.

The grand jury report further notes that "by hiring and maintaining Dings in her position, Chief Womack has created a hostile environment at LPD."

A written response to the report initially turned over back in February, LPD countered "No Lakeland Police employee has been disciplined because they upset or crossed Ann Dinges."

For his part, outgoing Mayor Gow Fields said the report is grasping at straws, and highlights that no criminal charges were ever filed in some of the most high-profile scandals within LPD.

"There were people who were concerned about that bra searching case. Was that in the presentment? No it's not."

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