Sunday, April 22, 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: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18