The Lakeland, Florida Police Department has had a rough time recently, with an officer humiliating a young woman on the side of the road and another officer being stopped from testifying by the judge to obtain legal counsel on possible perjury (here); an officer beating another driver in road rage, a traffic ticket controversy, and eleven lawsuits against the department in the last few years (here); and a sex scandal that involves a dozen officers (here).
And the hits keep coming in…
Two sergeants fired, one resigned in questions about the sex scandal and testifying truthfully.
A lieutenant resigned in lieu of termination in the sex scandal. This lieutenant had been the subject of multiple Internal Affairs investigations (1,800 pages), had been recommended for before, yet was still a lieutenant. Another officer who had sex with the civilian employee in a closet also resigned. Captain John Thomason retired rather than face an investigation into the matter. A total of nine officers are no longer with the department due to the scandals.
Now, the State’s Attorney is considering tossing up to 40 DUI cases due to “integrity” issues within the Lakeland Police Department. This involves Officer Eads, who was covered in a earlier post, Sergeant Ray Lloyd, and three other officers. It seems that the State’s Attorney feels that Lloyd was less than truthful in an investigation into Lakeland IAD Lieutenant Hans Lehman.
Chief Womack has full faith that the Internal Affairs process is working – until it came to light that Lt. Lehman tipped off an officer facing an IA investigation. The officer tipped off? Sgt. Lloyd. Now an Assistant Chief will oversee Internal Affairs. But the process is working…
Is that why the Mayor is setting up a blue ribbon panel to assess the police department?
Is that why the state legislators want the Polk County Sheriff to come in and fix the department?
And the department is facing re-accreditation by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, Inc. But not to worry, according to Lt. Lehman, the assessors “understand that we’ve worked hard the last two and a half, three years to get back to where we were…” Uh, is that the same Lehman that allegedly tipped off Lloyd?
I’ve got a better solution. Close down the department and bring in the Sheriff’s Office to handle law enforcement. Take time to find a new chief and hire a completely new staff. The culture cannot be changed when it is that prevalent throughout the department and into the command staff level.
The two co-chairs of the advisory committee set up by the mayor have resigned, prior to the committee’s first meeting. One of the two indicated that she was concerned about the communications and accountability breakdowns created by the organizational culture. She also indicated that she was troubled by the fact that there had been no commitment to hold these meetings publicly.