State Attorney Jerry Hill is usually soft spoken, but his message always comes through loud and clear no matter what the issue. As the guest speaker of the Tiger Bay Club of Polk County on Thursday, Hill didn't mince words.
On whether Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack should be fired:
"Lakeland is not the first time we have had problems with a chief of police," he said. "A couple of years ago in Haines City, we charged a police chief and he was removed. In Dundee, we ended up getting rid of the police department. In Avon Park, we got the chief removed; Lake Wales, got the chief removed."
And Hill said each law enforcement agency ended up better off.
"Every time we accomplished that, the police department was better for it. The citizens were better for it," Hill said.
Hill says Lakeland is the only place where city leadership bowed up and is trying to work out problems on its own. He said this in the LPD citizen's review commission.
"I am concerned that they haven't invited in people with different points of view who might say things they wouldn't agree with," he said.
On the courthouse sex scandal, he asked why Judge Beth Harlan, accused of signing falsified timesheets, was released on her own recognizance, and bond was set for her judicial assistance Alicia Rupp, who is accused of fudging the paperwork.
"While I may question the judge's actions, I don't think she is a risk not to show up for court and swim the Rio," he said with a smile.
Hill became State Attorney in 1984 and has been re-elected ever since, unopposed. He plans to run for re-election once again, next year.
And his take on another legal heavyweight: Attorney General Pam Bondi, who rescheduled an execution because it conflicted with one of her campaign re-election events.
"That was a real screw up," he said.
But he added that he is a Bondi fan, and she has done a lot for Florida.
Finally, on the preacher who wanted to burn 3,000 Korans in Mulberry on September 11th:
"This guy just wanted publicity, and he was going to get it worldwide. I think the sheriff's conduct, and you can draw your own conclusions, saved lives."
Hill was asked if he is going to run for re-election next year. He said he can't see himself doing anything else.
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