State Attorney Jerry Hill did not mince words in his latest letter of admonishment about the Lakeland Police Department and the woman who runs it.
The letter was hand delivered to Lakeland City Hall Friday. It is the latest volley in a war of words that seems to be heating up with every new incident of wrongdoing at LPD.
In the letter, Hill says Lakeland, like Rome, is burning.
He says he likes Police Chief Lisa Womack as a person, but she is just not cutting it.
"It is a kin to, let's say, a professional football coach, that is indeed likeable, personable and bright, but just simply cannot field a winning team, " Hill said. "The team loses even though it has the talent, repeatedly."
Later in the day at a press conference in Lakeland, Womack said this:
"It is widely known that he doesn't like me personally. That's what I have been told."
Hill also said LPD has become a "third-rate" agency and the citizens of Lakeland are now at risk because of it.
"To suggest that the safety of our citizens is in jeopardy by our actions is reckless, " said City Manager Doug Thomas.
Thomas and Lakeland's mayor say they know of no moves to fire Womack, despite Hill's ongoing criticisms.
It's not the first black eye for LPD. A
department-wide sex scandal investigation has led to the firing or resignation
of more than a dozen city employees.
Also on Thursday, a Lakeland woman told FOX 13 she planned to sue the Lakeland Police Department after she was asked to shake out her bra during a traffic stop.
State Attorney Jerry Hill says enough is enough.
"I don't know why we pussyfoot around with these issues when the evidence is quite clear and evident," he said.
In a letter to Lakeland's City Manager, Hill
suggested Womack should be let go, and reiterated his feelings at a press conference Friday afternoon.
"The chief is great at hanging paper on
the wall. The chief is great at obtaining certificates. She's great at making
sure written word of polices are in place. But folks, that ain't where the
rubber meets the road," Hill said.
Chief Lisa Womack also held a press conference, where she responded to Hill's letter.
"It's been well given to me that the state attorney has his opinion of me regarding my performance. I believe it's
personally motivated," Womack said.
Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields is standing behind Womack, saying most of the issues she's now facing were inherited.
"If you can visual a building where half of it needs to be torn off to be rebuilt, it's going to look bad before it looks good," Fields said Friday.
Hill says this renovation is taking too long. He says many of the issues took root during Womack's three years in office.
"I owe something to the citizens that I represent, and by the way citizens of Lakeland and the victims of Lakeland. And I think they do too. And maybe we see our responsibilities just a touch differently," Hill said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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