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 two-and-a-half hour discussion about the state of the city's police department evoked feelings of concern, embarrassment, and even gratitude.
Facing the city commission for the first time since news broke of massive sexual misconduct within the Lakeland Police Department (LPD), Chief Lisa Womack said the agency is moving in the right direction toward rooting out all problems.
"This bell cannot be un-rung," said Womack. "But I can make sure that those who have dishonored the Lakeland Police Department badge and uniform will no longer be Lakeland Police officers."
See also: State Attorney alleges Lakeland PD sexual misconduct
Womack, who has been chief in Lakeland for two-and-a-half years, said she has been focused on increasing accountability within the department since she arrived. The first hour of Monday morning's discussion centered around the training and policies she has established.
Womack said about a dozen officers have been terminated since she started because of investigations into serious behavioral problems.
Following Womack's praise for officers who had nothing to do with the scandal, Mayor Gow Fields offered a teary-eyed response and apology for the black eye.
"To the [officers] who have not done anything wrong," Fields said, "thanks for pursuing excellence and doing your job anyway."
Womack hinted several times that the investigation - which has a handful of officers on administrative leave - could extend to other city agencies.
The 37-year-old woman at the center of the LPD sex scandal, who first had consensual sex with co-workers before the relationships allegedly turned abusive, worked in other city departments for six years before taking an analyst job with the police department.
"People who allegedly engaged in these behaviors, whether they're my [employees], or anyone else' in the city, did not make these decisions because they're Lakeland Police officers. They made them in spite of being Lakeland Police officers, and I am appalled by that."
Womack added that LPD has also added fraternization language to its nepotism policy, requiring any employee to disclose a new relationship with a co-worker.
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