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updated: 2/4/2014 7:12 PM

Ex-Elgin police chief put on leave in Florida

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  • Former Elgin Police Chief Lisa Womack has been placed on leave from the police department in Lakeland, Fla., where she is schedule to resign as chief on May 1.

      Former Elgin Police Chief Lisa Womack has been placed on leave from the police department in Lakeland, Fla., where she is schedule to resign as chief on May 1.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

Former Elgin Police Chief Lisa Womack, already scheduled to leave her chief's job in Lakeland, Fla., now has been placed on administrative leave after exceeding her authority on a hiring matter involving her nephew.

Womack's resignation is set for May 1. It came after a no-confidence vote from police department employees in January, said Lakeland Police Sgt. Gary Gross.

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Womack, who worked in Elgin from 2005 to 2010, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

According to a Jan. 30 report that followed an investigation by the State's Attorney's Office for the Tenth Judicial Circuit in Florida, Womack's nephew Rhett Hughes traveled from Texas to Florida in October 2012 to take an exam for the position of public safety aide for the Lakeland department.

Hughes was among 18 candidates -- out of 35 -- who failed to get the minimum required score, the report states.

Womack acted "beyond the scope of her authority" and decided to allow all candidates -- regardless of whether they passed or failed -- to the next phase of the hiring process, a move that prompted criticism inside the police department, the report states.

In the end, four candidates were hired, two who passed the exam and two who had failed, after Womack's nephew did not complete the selection process.

Lakeland City Manager Doug Thomas did not return a request for comment.

"The report raises serious allegations against Police Chief Lisa Womack regarding potential violations of Florida statutes involving official misconduct, in addition to alleged deviations from Lakeland civil service and personnel policies and procedures," Thomas said in a news release.

On Jan. 22, a majority of Lakeland police employees cast a no-confidence vote in Womack's abilities to lead the department, Gross said. The vote was prompted by an anonymous letter sent to the union president asking for a vote, he said.

Last year, the Lakeland Police Department was in the Florida media's spotlight for a series of incidents, including investigations into sexual misconduct by officers and the department's practices regarding public records.

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