Third city commissioner now calling for resignation of embattled LPD chief

Keith Merritt surprised by no confidence vote

LAKELAND, Fla. - Another Lakeland commissioner is calling for the resignation of the embattled police chief.

One day after the majority of LPD employees cast a vote of "no confidence" in Chief Lisa Womack, Commissioner Keith Merritt announced he's withdrawing his support of the chief.

"I really didn't expect the vote to be as strongly negative as it was," he said.

On Wednesday night, 152 union and non-union members at LPD said the were not confident in their leader, while 123 workers said they were confident.

The vote, organized by the police union, is considered non-binding, meaning there are no immediate consequences but it sends a message to the city commission and the chief's boss, City Manager Doug Thomas.

"She should, for the betterment of the city, consider offering her resignation," Merritt said after seeing the results of the vote.

Chief Womack would not speak to reporters on Thursday, but in a statement said she's happy everyone had a chance to voice their opinions and is "eager to move the agency forward."

But the momentum may not be moving in her favor.

Merritt is now the third commissioner to call for her resignation, and there could be more.

"She's a very good chief, the question though is is she the right chief for Lakeland right now? And I have to make that decision early next week," said newly elected Commissioner Jim Malless.

He said he's still reviewing all the issues, including the widely-known sex scandal, the bra-shake controversy, the grand jury presentment accusing the chief of playing favorites, and last month, the state attorney revealed dozens of problems with LPD cases.

"We have a really progressive city, and we do lots of really impressive things and my fear has been that we've lost that momentum because so much attention is being paid to this single issue," Merritt said.

Womack was scheduled to meet with the city manager Thursday afternoon.

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