Mayor defends embattled Lakeland Police Dept. - FOX 13 News

Mayor defends embattled Lakeland Police Dept.

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In the last week or so, Lakeland police have had to grapple with two highly publicized and embarrassing issues.

 In one, an officer asks a driver to pull her shirt up twice and shake her bra out to make sure she was not hiding any drugs.

Just days later, another officer, this time on the witness stand in a DUI case, mentions that has asked drivers to sign paperwork then he would fill out the rest later. He also mentioned he would have paperwork notarized, then he make changes later.

When the state attorney found out, he fired off a letter to Lakeland's chief of police saying, the agency has serious problems with its training.

"We take the state attorney's concerns very seriously and will look at it fully, which will include a complete review of our training," promised Chief Lisa Womack.

The state attorney won't be specific, but it seems like Jerry Hill is concerned about other issues at LPD as well.

"Sadly we have had a disproportionate amount of our time on Lakeland issues this year," he told FOX 13. "We don't go looking for issues with Lakeland. Every time we turn around they put one in front of us."

One recent flap involved the grand jury looking into whether the agency is releasing information as it should. Another involves the Florida Department of Law Enforcement looking into possible criminal violations at LPD.

It has been rough waters for Chief Womack since she arrived two years ago, but the mayor says he is happy with the way the department is being managed.

"Yes, I am," Mayor Gow Fields offered. "Our chief is doing a great job."

The mayor says crime is down and LPD is on the verge of being nationally recognized.

"This community should take some comfort that an independent group actually went through and reviewed our policies and procedures and we are recommended to the board for accreditation," added Lakeland City Manager Doug Thomas.

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