Three more people have resigned from a commission put together to review problems at the Lakeland Police Department.
They are Kent Ingle, President of Southeastern University; Anne Kerr, President of Florida Southern College; and Elaine Thompson, CEO of Lakeland Regional Medical Center.
The commission was put together in the wake of a sex scandal that has engulfed the department in recent weeks.
The resignations follow two others: Joe P. Ruthven, a former mayor of Lakeland, was to be the chairman of the oversight board. Dr. Eileen Holden is the president of Polk State College.
In a letter to the chief of police, Holden cited a list of concerns: city commission members not getting along and working together, the city commission and newspaper are at odds with each other, and a lack of trust between the city and the state attorney's office.
Kerr and Ingle both submitted letters of resignation. Kerr's letter indicated that her resignation was partly in response to Holden's and Ruthven's. She also said she thought there were too many people on the commission.
"I am concerned that a group of 15 individuals will require more time reaching consensus without their leadership," she said, saying she had "great confidence" is Ruthven and Holden.
Lakeland's mayor says he's disappointed but not surprised.
"When you're dealing with things as challenging as this is, in a very difficult environment where there are a lot of people who have some input and opinions they would like to bring forward, a lot of pressure begins to get applied to those who are in the middle of it. We're seeing how difficult that is for those who are not used to it," said Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields.
Monday, the commission's two co-chairs abruptly quit. Polk State College President Eileen Holden and Lakeland Businessman Joe Ruthven submitted their resignations just hours before a town hall meeting about the sex scandal at the Lakeland Police Department.
"We've still got the tough decisions to make no matter what. We still have the same work to do no matter who decides to help us." Mayor Fields said.
In a letter to the mayor, Kerr cites the resignation of the panel's co-chairs, saying "I am concerned that a group of fifteen individuals will require more time coming to a consensus without their leadership."
Ingle gave no clear reason for stepping down in his resignation letter but said he "will stand behind our community." Thompson did not submit a letter.
Despite the resignations, the mayor says the remaining members of the commission are ready to start working. They will hold their first meeting at 3:30 Thursday afternoon.
"For some of them, these are total strangers. They're meeting for the first time. The thing they have in common is they care about Lakeland. They care about the future of this city and they care about their police department. So we'll build on that as a foundation and we'll go forward together," Mayor Fields said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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