Lakeland, Florida- The sex scandal within the Lakeland Police Department has been a huge embarrassment for the city, but the first of many advisory commission meetings on Thursday started conversations on waysto help the city and its police department gain back trust.
From education and baking, to retired law enforcement the team of 10 strangers will be spending plenty of time together in the coming months.
"I want to start by thanking you all for volunteering to assist us as a city and the Lakeland Police Department," said Chief Lisa Womack. "We embody community policing. You are the community... we are going to give you all the resources and all the information that you ask for."
Lakeland's mayor and city manager pledged similar support.They've asked the commission to focus in on three main points:
- Improving the speak up culture among city employees
- Rebuilding trust within the community; while better responding to citizen concerns
- And to help the city chart progress and measure success
"They had a lot of questions- wide ranging- and I think we're off to a great start," said Mayor Gow Fields.
All but one of the 10 members are from the city of Lakeland. The exception is Dr. Jim Sewell, formally the agent in charge of the Tampa office for Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
"I think what we can do is give an un-jaundiced eye. I think there are a lot of things in motion with what's a black eye for the city and I think we can give them some advice and council on how they can make sure this doesn't happen again," said Sewell.
"What I really hope is that we make the city a better place, and that we help the city get over what's been a very difficult situation," said newly elected commission chair Bruce Abels. "But what our outcome is going to be, I can't predict."
The commission will have a huge job ahead of them, and while they want to finish their work as quickly as possible for the sake of the city, they also say they want to make sure they get this right. For that reason no target date was set on when they'd like to have their recommendations to the city.
Follow 10 News Reporter Beau Zimmer on twitter @Zimm10
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