Monday, February 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: FDLE should look again at Lakeland Police Department

To serve and protect is the fundamental social contract between law enforcement and the citizenry. But the citizens of Lakeland have been ill served by a police department embroiled in a sex abuse scandal involving on-duty and off-duty trysts. There also have been tawdry allegations involving officers humiliating women stopped for traffic violations. Lakeland police Chief Lisa Womack has been scrambling to hold accountable officers who abused their positions, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is contemplating another investigation of the department. A new independent investigation of the department is the best approach to restoring public confidence.

It's possible the public still would not know about the officers' intolerable conduct had Polk County State Attorney Jerry Hill not released a scathing 56-page report in June. That report detailed the Lakeland department's Animal House behavior. Both Womack and Lakeland City Manager Doug Thomas learned about the sexual abuse allegations at least four months before contacting the FDLE.

Hill's report detailed on- and off-duty sexual activity among at least 10 officers that took place in patrol cars, public offices, a church building and even a cemetery. He suggested that some of the sex acts might not have been consensual.

Two veteran officers were fired and two more resigned this week after being implicated in the scandal. A civilian department employee, the woman at the center of the sexual activity with officers, has filed state and federal sexual harassment claims against the Lakeland department. Womack has been chief for two years but has said she learned of the sexual activity within the ranks just four months ago. That suggests the chief was either too isolated or intentionally looking the other way.

The FDLE should conduct another investigation to ensure that the Lakeland Police Department is cleaned up, those responsible for the sex scandal are rooted out, and the department starts fresh. Even if Womack has the best of intentions, only an outside review can restore public trust in a department that is under such a cloud.

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Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18
Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Gov. Rick Scott always has been grudging and imperious about restoring the voting rights of felons, requiring them to wait for years before begging the governor and Cabinet to be recognized again as citizens. That arrogance is on full display in a le...
Published: 02/13/18
Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Immigrants brought into this country illegally as children by their parents may be wondering whom to trust. The political theater being played out in Washington hasnít settled the status of either the "Dreamers" or the estimated 11 million other undo...
Published: 02/13/18