Lakeland police chief's job up in the air -- again - FOX 13 News

Lakeland police chief's job up in the air -- again

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LAKELAND (FOX 13) -

The fate of Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack is more unclear than ever. Last week, she announced that she was retiring, but planned on working until May 1.

Early Thursday evening, the State Attorney's office dropped a bombshell: a blistering investigative report, and plans changed drastically. The report says Womack influenced hiring practices at LPD to benefit her nephew, a possible criminal offense.

"When you start alluding to criminal charges, I think we had to do something specific and major at this point in time," newly elected Mayor Howard Wiggs told FOX 13.

The State Attorney's Office says it did not charge Womack criminally because there was not enough evidence to meet the standard "beyond a reasonable doubt."

According to the report, Womack's nephew took and failed a test to become a public safety aide. Womack threw out the test results, and moved everyone, including her nephew to next step in the process.

The investigation also says Womack had her employees question the validity of the test and the competency of the people who administered it.

Womack's nephew is from Texas. The report says she told a captain it was too difficult for out of state people to come back a number of times to complete the application process . Pointing her finger at him, the report says Womack told him to "fix it."

After the report was released, City manager Doug Thomas put Womack on administrative leave.

"I think under the circumstances, it was the only choice I had available to me," Thomas said on Friday.

Womack will remain on administrative leave pending the outcome of a city investigation that will look into whether Womack may have violated policies and procedures.

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