LAKELAND, FL – Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack has announced she is resigning May 1.
The announcement comes the same week a majority of officers and other employees of LPD voted that they have no confidence in Womack’s leadership. The total tally was 152 to 123.
In a letter to City Manager Doug Thomas, Womack wrote;
After full and careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that it is in the best interest of me and my family to transition out of my position of Chief of Police of the Lakeland Police Department. I am very proud of all the things we, as a department, have been able to accomplish in the three years I have been Chief.
I would like to thank you for the strong support you have shown me and the Police Department during my tenure here. Throughout my career, I have not worked for or with any other City Manager who has shown such integrity and strength of character.
My transition from my position as Chief of Police will be effective May 1, 2014. I will continue to move this department forward with 100% commitment until that time. And, I will assist in any way I can to make my departure as seamless as possible.
Thank you for the honor of being the Chief of Police for the Lakeland Police Department.
City Manager Doug Thomas said the Chief’s decision to leave her post wasn’t an easy one.
“There was absolutely no request for her termination. She came to me with this request and I accepted it,” Thomas said.
Lakeland Mayor Howard Wiggs said the Chief is a nice person but her resignation is the best thing for the community. Wiggs hopes the city can begin to heal.
Commissioners also believe Womack’s resignation was the best option.
“I had reached the conclusion two days ago that that was the only way,” said Commissioner Keith Merritt. “As far as I can tell we were going to be able to move forward. So, yes, I called for her resignation.”
“I feel terrible that it reached this point but the city had really stagnated in terms of its ability to move forward through no fault of the City Manager and for that matter the Police Chief. We just had to move forward and this seemed like the way to do it.”
But it was a decision that some local leaders say was a long time coming.
Last summer, a sex scandal rocked the Lakeland Police Department and several officers lost their jobs or resigned.
The woman at the center of that scandal alleges she had sex with officers on the clock, just before she slapped the city with a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Another officer came under fire after a woman said he forced her to have sex while responding to a call at her house.
State Attorney Jerry Hill even stepped in writing letters to the city, calling for new leadership. He launched a grand jury investigation about the department not making public records available.
“This past year has been a very challenging year not only for Lisa the department, myself, all the members that have been involved in a very, very difficult year,” Thomas said. “It’s not a surprise that this has taken its toll personally on her.”
The city manager said they will begin the process to find another chief. In the meantime, the city manager said he will figure out which one of the assistant chiefs will act as the interim chief.
Womack cited personal reasons for resigning.