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Lakeland police chief resigns after majority vote of 'no confidence'

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Albeit hired as Lakeland Police Department (LPD) police chief in March 2011, with a scope on inheriting and cleaning up a scandal-plagued police agency, Lisa Womack has tendered her resignation on Friday, January 24, 2014, almost three years since her hiring.

The majority vote of "no confidence" among Lakeland police employees --both sworn and non-sworn-- resulted in a 152-123 tabulation, effectively announcing the LPD pulse of what its members feel about their leader, Police Chief Lisa Womack.

Focused on everyone's best interest, Police Chief Lisa Womack cited in her resignation that she felt the need to depart the law enforcement agency. Made public in recent months, the majority of the agency's police personnel, their police union, and the public alike decried Chief Womack's ability to clean up and guide the embattled law enforcement agency.

Lakeland City Manager Doug Thomas said he never sought Womack's resignation and admitted that, when she assumed the role of police chief in March 2011, she did enter into a department rife with problems.

The bandied-about philosophy among many in the community is that she was given a troubled police agency to fix. However, the scandal-based issues kept gaining momentum, even national exposure, during her tenure.

One such blemish made public, garnering national attention, was when a Lakeland police officer conducted a traffic stop and had the female driver lift her shirt to shake out her bra to ascertain if she was concealing contraband in her undergarment. The entire incident was recorded on the officer's in-car video camera system.

Synonymously, LPD had an ongoing debacle regarding a myriad of Lakeland police officers (22 in all) and one city firefighter, all of whom allegedly engaged in a lengthy pattern of sexual activities with Sue Eberle, a female civilian police member at the time.

Tantamount to criminal charges, Eberle alleged she was a part-time willing participant in these sexual trysts and, cited via her attorney, David Linesch, that not all of the sexual contacts were consensual. Eberle claimed she was a willing partner in some of them, and allegedly coerced to perform sexually in others.

Sue Eberle is married. Eberle was terminated as a Lakeland police employee in September 2013. Chief Lisa Womack cited the root of Eberle's termination is based in LPD regulations and policy: "Conduct unbecoming, untruthfulness, and required conduct and cooperation during an investigation for case 12-025."

One allegation of Eberle allegedly involved her and a LPD police officer. Eberle claimed they had sex on the premises of a site where the funeral for a slain police colleague was held.

The fallout stemming from the aforementioned sexual scandal resulted in several resignations and retirements; others were flatly terminated. Five other LPD officers implicated in the widely-involved sex scandal resulted in "unsubstantiated" findings.

Notwithstanding the array of the aforementioned indiscretions and all implications, Chief Womack joined the agency and attempted to reign in these pre-existing, woeful, misconduct-laced chapters the department was enduring.

Nevertheless, the majority vote of "no confidence" was heard; Chief Womack responded as she thought was best for all.


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