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Sex scandal still troubling Lakeland leaders | News

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Sex scandal still troubling Lakeland leaders

Lakeland, Florida -- If we all agree a city's number one job is the safety of its people, then this challenge is incredibly serious.

How do you fix the fractured relationship between the City of Lakeland, which runs the police department -- and the state attorney, who prosecutes the bad guys they bust?

Lakeland's city commission says the best way is one-on-one.

In a cramped conference room, before their regular televised meeting Monday, commissioners agreed that ideally, City Manager Doug Thomas and State Attorney Jerry Hill would meet privately, face-to-face.

Hill has been a leading critic of Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack and how the city has handled the sex scandal that has rocked her department.

Hill also says his prosecutors will no longer use testimony from Sgt. Bryan McNabb, a Lakeland PD officer involved in the scandal.

In a letter last week, Hill rejected a one-on-one talk with the city manager. Instead, he asked the city manager to meet him in Bartow, a half-hour from Lakeland City Hall.

Under Hill's proposal, the public, reporters, and city commissioners could come witness that meeting, but couldn't take part. Lakeland commissioners on Monday bristled at the Bartow meeting idea.

"The citizens of Lakeland live in Lakeland. They expect to have a chance to weigh in on these very important subjects," Mayor Gow Fields told 10 News.

Instead, they've decided to invite Hill to Lakeland City Hall and a city commission meeting, with public comment and a question-and-answer session from city commissioners.

I asked Mayor Fields whether he felt a that would start rebuilding the relationship.

"We're gonna need to have a meeting," Fields replied.

"Whether it's in Georgia -- I mean, it really doesn't matter. If we're going to rebuild a relationship, and answer to the taxpayers that we all are answerable to, we're gonna have to work this out."

10 News reached out to State Attorney Jerry Hill.

Brian Haas, a spokesman for the State Attorney's Office, says Hill and his staff will carefully review the final language in the city's resolution and then take some time to respond.

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