Go look at page 22 of the State Attorney’s Report on the LPD Pirhana scandal. Look under the heading, “Officer Steve Sherman Information Related to the Lakeland Police Department.”
Here’s a peek.
I quoted this section in an earlier post. Sherman, who is himself implicated in the Pirhana scandal, offered this take on the LPD Administration’s relationship with the now departed Officer David Woolverton:
“[Sherman] heard from other officers of an incident that occurred while Sgt. David Woolverton and the Lakeland Police Department S.W.A.T. team were in a sanctioned competition in Orlando a while back. He was told that Sgt. Woolverton went missing from a competition for an extended period of time and nobody could locate him. He said that it was told that Sgt. Woolverton was discovered to have left to engage in a sexual encounter with a woman he was having an affair with. [ed–Not Sue Eberle] He believed the incident to have been investigated by LPD, but no disciplinary action was taken to his knowledge. He believed Woolverton to be one of the officers at LPD [that] Administration has shown favoritism towards. [emphasis mine]”
If you were a city official charged with fixing the broken culture at your most important agency, would this passage interest you? Would you want to know if this was true and if any other troubled officers enjoyed favoritism? Would this be a key to deciding whether to replace LPD leadership? Or yourself.
Well, maybe not.
I go through this exercise again to highlight something striking from Monday night’s Pirhana Scandal Town Hall at Youkey Theater. I showed up late because of work; but I saw most of it. And I stood up to ask essentially the same questions I asked in the previous post. This time in person.
Did the chief empower these rogue officers? Is that part of the internal investigation? If not, why not? Why was Felicia Wilson promoted just last summer? Did the chief and assistant chief threaten a former officer, critical of the agency. Why did Sherman call Woolverton a “favorite” of the administration? I used Woolverton’s name.
Once the public comment portion ended, City Manager Doug Thomas, City Attorney Tim McCausland, and Mayor Gow Fields answered a few questions that citizens had asked. Their willingness to answer seemed directly proportional to how helpful the answer might seem to them. Shockingly, none of them answered my questions. I’m sure it was an oversight. And the chief never spoke at all that I remember during the time I was there.
But later, when city commissioners got a chance to speak, Justin Troller did raise some of my questions rather pointedly to Doug. And he asked about the favoritism issue with Woolverton. At which point, Doug answered by saying something curious, several times.
Doug said he had “heard” me ask about Woolverton, as if my words were the first he’d seen or heard of Sherman’s allegations of administration partiality to troublesome officers.
As in, “Yes, I heard the allegation the gentleman raised earlier tonight.” (That’s an approximation. I wasn’t taking notes. But it was like that.) This wasn’t a misspeak. He said it more than once. At no point did Doug acknowledge this accusation came from the text of the State Attorney’s report, not from my mouth, which had just repeated it. At no point did anyone acknowledge that any of my questions came from the body of the report, not my addled brain.
Is it possible that the City Manager hasn’t actually read the report? What about the rest of them?
Could Doug have conceivably missed a section called “Officer Steve Sherman Information Related to the Lakeland Police Department?” Could he have overlooked the six bullet points and five additional subheadings talking critically about administration behavior concerning favoritism or leniency toward Woolverton, Felicia Wilson, and Al Wilson; a threat former Officer Jimmy Mock; or the intimidation of a popular School Resource Officer?
Is this possible? In any event, like I said, it starts on page 22. You might want to read it if you’re a city official — or just a good citizen.
For what it’s worth, Doug’s answer to my Woolverton favoritism question was to point out that he resigned last week. His answer to Felicia Wilson’s promotion was that he doesn’t get involved in promotions. That’s for his department heads.
Neither Justin nor I got an answer on whether administration behavior is part of the internal investigation. I would wager that actually is an answer, though.