LAKELAND, Fla. - Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack did not skirt any questions regarding her current employment and why she quit her last job as police chief in Elgin, Illinois.
Womack addressed concerns over whether she was properly vetted when reports surfaced that she was also weathering an internal sex scandal in Elgin when she departed.
"It was a sad situation there, but it is not the situation we have here, " said Chief Womack to a crowd of 30 people. "This was confirmed folks. It was in no way related to my departure in any way as chief there."
In Elgin, two officers engaged in an extramarital affair.
In Lakeland, at least ten officers are involved in a sex scandal involving Sue Eberle, a civilian worker who alleges the officers coerced her into engaging in various sex acts.
"What people choose to do behind closed doors or locked vehicles or whatever it may be is in the hearts and minds," Womack explained.
Chief Womack also said her background check before being hired in Lakeland was almost four inches thick.
She even took time to joke with the crowd about how thoroughly she was vetted.
"I think they knew everything but my favorite color and that happens to be blue. So, now we have completed the circle," Womack said to a laughing audience.
At least five officers involved in the LPD sex scandal have resigned or been fired.
Last week, two officers filed grievances and met with Womack to try and get their jobs back.
The meeting was held behind closed doors.
Tonight, Chief Womack reminded the crowd she has until August 16 to render her decision.
However, she noted that she would disclose her decision much sooner. The officers are asking for back pay and full benefits.
Should the chief decide not to reinstate the officers, they can then appeal to the city manager.
The chief noted that there are close to a dozen openings on the force and she is going to start a mini training session in September to begin recruiting.
She told citizens she should be held accountable for who she hires.
And, despite the many openings, she said she will take her time filling the open positions because she values quality over quantity when it comes to who wears a badge.
"Hiring police officers is as much an art as it is a science," Womack explained.
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