LAKELAND, Fla. - In the middle of a busy Lakeland shopping plaza, police officers filed into the Il Forno restaurant and decided a formal vote of no-confidence was warranted on Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack.
"I'm kind of embarrassed by it. I'm kind of ashamed that this is going on," said Ofc. Patricia Phillips.
Phillips was there in support of Womack. But she was in the minority Monday night. The results of the second straw poll revealed union members want to move forward with a vote of no-confidence in the chief. They voted in favor of it 33-30.
"My main goal here was to let the members come out and speak and 63 did," said West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association President Nick Marolda.
There are about 190 union members total.
The two straw polls came on the heels of multiple scandals within the department. There was also an anonymous letter sent to Marolda from a group of concerned police union members. The letter made bold accusations about the chief, calling her a bully and vindictive. The anonymous officers wrote they "no longer wish to be subjected to her continued lack of leadership."
However, Phillips, a 25 year veteran of the department, stood behind her chief. She feels Womack inherited a lot of these issues.
"A lot of people are blaming her for all the problems we have and I don't think that's fair," Phillips said.
"We've gotten our accreditation back, which is basically saying we're doing something right."
The issue will now move forward to a full vote. According to Marolda, the formal no-confidence vote will happen in the next couple of weeks.