Lakeland P.D. woes prompt scathing letter - WNCN: News, Weather

Lakeland P.D. woes prompt scathing letter

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Lakeland City Manager Doug Tomas & Mayor Gow Fields Lakeland City Manager Doug Tomas & Mayor Gow Fields
LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

It's a war of words between Polk County State Attorney Jerry Hill and Lakeland city leaders. Hill wrote a 2 1/2 page letter calling Police Chief Lisa Womack, more of a threat than a protector. "If it had just been the Pagan case itself, I doubt we'd be standing here. What Pagan points out is a cultural issue that Lakeland knew about, the city manager knew about it, the chief knew about it and did nothing," Said Jerry Hill. Officer Julio Pagan is charged with two counts of Armed Sexual Battery and is the latest case to rock the department.

The Lakeland city manager and the mayor both say, the comments expressed by Jerry Hill in this letter, are reckless and wrong. "Mr. Hill wants us to use a sledge hammer. I prefer to use a scalpel," said Mayor Gow Fields.

Lakeland city leaders say the state attorney wants to halt investigations before they are finished. "Mr. Hill has erroneously stated that our course of action has been to stonewall, filibuster and with the hopes that the problems will simply go away. That simply has not been the case," said City Manager Doug Thomas.

The mayor says it’s time to let the system work. "While Mr. Hill suggests that due process is not appropriate when it comes to LPD, I would say to you, he is absolutely wrong."

Jerry Hill used a sports analogy, saying if you're not winning games; it's time to do something different. Mayor Fields responded "I understand how Mr. Hill feels, but I am not prepared to fire the coach for doing a good job."

Chief Womack says people tell her often, they support her efforts. She doesn't like Hill's comments about safety at risk. "To suggest that that somehow the things that we are dealing with now puts any of our community in jeopardy is just, it, as the manager said, reckless," she said.

The message from the city: let the investigations finish and then judge the outcome.

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