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Courts / Law

Lakeland Officials Get Earful on Police Sex Scandal


Lakeland city officials held a public forum Monday night to discuss complaints about improper searches, botched criminal cases and a sex scandal involving city police officers.

Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields wanted residents to know that city leaders want to be transparent about the police department's sex scandal.

"We want you to remember we work for you," Fields told about 200 people gathered in the Youkey Theater at the Lakeland Center. "We understand that you're at the top of the organizational chart of the city and we all answer to you."

Most residents either stood to comment in support of the city leaders including Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack.

"Shame on us that we're pointing fingers," said longtime Lakeland resident Deane Palmer. "None of us are willing to give our lives up and get out on the street. There are a lot of good officers, there's a lot of good people in this city."

A report released last month by the Polk State Attorney's Office alleged dozens of consensual and multiple forced sexual encounters involving more than 20 officers and city workers. The city's police department is in the midst of its own investigation. The allegations include police doing "bra-shaking" traffic stop searches. 

So far, one police captain, one lieutenant and one officer involved in the allegations resigned before they could be fired. Two sergeants who were fired are appealing that decision.

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