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CONTACT:
Kevin Cook
Director of Communications
City of Lakeland
863/834-6264
Twitter @lakelandgov

 

 

GIDDENS NAMED AS HEAD OF LAKELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT

KIRK NAMED AS ASSISTANT CHIEF

 

 

 

LAKELAND, FL (December 17, 2014) – City Manager Doug Thomas is very pleased to announce that two of 

the threefinalists for the Lakeland Police Department’s Chief of Police will be part of the administration that will continue to move the Department forward. Larry Giddens who was serving as the Department’s Interim Chief was named Lakeland’s Chief of Police and Lieutenant Colonel Tony Kirk will move from his current position as Deputy Chief in Topeka, Kansas to serve as an Assistant Chief with the Lakeland Police Department.

 

Thomas said, “We really got the best of both worlds with Chief Giddens who has continually served this community unselfishly for over 30 years and Assistant Chief Kirk who will bring his 27 years of law enforcement experience to Lakeland.   I really don’t think it could have worked out any better. It is rare to have undergone a national search and be in a position to appoint two top leaders in the field of law enforcement to the benefit of Lakeland’s Police Department.  I want to thank the members of my Advisory Selection Committee for all their hard work in vetting the candidates and they are very supportive of the ability to appoint two of the three finalists to be part of Lakeland Police Department’s senior administrative leadership team.”  

 

Giddens started his career with the Lakeland Police Department as an auxiliary officer in 1984.  He was hired full-time in 1985 as a patrol officer on the Uniform Patrol Division.  He successfully excelled through the ranks serving on Special Weapons & Tactics, Street Crimes Unit, Hostage Negotiations, Special Investigations and Community Services. As Captain, Giddens was the Commanding Officer of the Uniform Patrol Division and he was named Assistant Chief of Police in 2011 overseeing the Neighborhood Services Bureau.  He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from St. Leo University, a Certified Public Manager, and attended the Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP) and a graduate of the 223rd Session of the FBI National Academy. Giddens has served as the Interim Chief of Police since February 2014.

 

Giddens said, “I am honored and humbled to serve my hometown community as the Chief of Police.  I have worked very hard to get to this stage and want to thank those that served on the Advisory Selection Committee and City Manager Doug Thomas for their hard work in this process.  I also want to thank my family for their undying support, as well as the members of the Police Department, associates from the City of Lakeland, our community leaders and the overwhelming number of citizens who have supported this agency throughout the process.” He added, “I moved into the Interim Chief of Police position with the intentions on improving relations with the media and the State Attorney’s office as well as solidifying strong partnerships with our fellow local, regional, state and federal law enforcement agencies.  I’m eager to bring my experience and skills to this position and with Tony Kirk joining our administrative team, we are going to continue to get better as an agency.”

 

Kirk started his career as a patrol officer and like Giddens, he has continually moved up within the Topeka Police Department.  Early in his career Kirk served as a Narcotics Officer, Community Police Officer and a Detective. In 2005, he was named Major over Criminal Investigations, then he moved to Special Operations and Field Operations before being named Deputy Chief of Police in 2012.  Kirk served as Interim Chief of Police from August 2014 to October 2014.  Kirk is also a Staff Sergeant with the Kansas Army National Guard, and holds both a Masters and Bachelor of Science from Friends University in Wichita, Kansas.  He is also a graduate of the 221st Session of the FBI National Academy.


Kirk said, “I am truly humbled and honored by the opportunity that City Manager Doug Thomas and Chief Giddens have afforded me. While certainly I was competing for the top job, the opportunity to join a first-class organization such as the Lakeland Police Department in this capacity was totally unexpected.” He added “I am excited and looking forward to working with the men and woman of the LPD. I’ve had in-depth conversations with Chief Giddens and Asst. Chief Mike Link. I am looking forward to working with these gentleman and the rest of the senior command staff as we carry the Lakeland Police Department into the future.  My family is very excited about this opportunity and looks forward to being a part of the Lakeland community.

 

Giddens appointment is effective immediately will make $145,000 per year and he is 52 years old and Kirk is expected to start with the Lakeland Police Department on or before March 15, 2015. He will be making $122,000 per year and is 49 years old.  


-END-

 


LAKELAND POLICE CHIEF CANDIDATE LIST NARROWED TO FINAL THREE

CONTACT: Kevin Cook, Director of Communications (863-834-6264)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LAKELAND, FL (December 2, 2014) -- The Lakeland Police Chief Search Advisory Committee met with the seven semifinalist candidates during panel interviews and after the process the group has been narrowed to three finalists that include Lakeland Interim Police Chief Larry Giddens, Brian Harris currently serving on the DeKalb County Police Department as Assistant Chief, and Tony Kirk serving on the Topeka, Kansas Police Department as Deputy Chief.
 
City Manager Thomas who sat in on the selection committee’s interviews said, “The committee had a tough decision today because of the high quality and credentials of the seven semifinalists, but following the interviews, and comparing the candidates to the ideal candidate profile, they narrowed the field to what they felt were the top three candidates that should advance to the next step of the selection process.”  He added, “I appreciate the hard work the committee has undertaken throughout the process in evaluating the strengths of each candidate and I am supportive of their recommendations regarding the top three finalists for the Police Chief position.”
 
The City would like to congratulate all the semifinalists for making the initial short list.  Thomas will conduct personal interviews starting tomorrow, Wednesday, December 3rd and will ultimately make the decision on the appointment of the successor Chief of Police later this month.
 
The following ten individuals were appointed by the City Manager to serve on the Advisory Police Chief Selection Committee:
 
Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor:  Over the course of her career, Chief Castor built a reputation for working side by side with residents, community leaders, business owners and neighboring law enforcement agencies to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in her community throughout her 30 year career. She was elected the first female president of a police academy class and 25 years later, became the first woman to lead the Tampa Police Department. She serves on the board of the Major City Chiefs Association and is a member of Harvard’s prestigious Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety. 
 
Mary Smith:  Prior to retiring in 2013, Ms. Smith served as Office Manager for Heartland Intergroup, a non-profit central office for Alcoholics Anonymous serving Polk, Hardee and Highlands Counties. She has been an active community volunteer, serving as Dixieland Historic Neighborhood Association President from 2009-2012; Neighborhood Association Coalition Vice President in 2011; Neighborhood Association Coalition President in 2012; current member of the Dixieland Community Redevelopment Authority and a member of the 2013 Lakeland Police Advisory Commission. 
 
Reverend Richard Richardson:  Reverend Richardson has a diverse background in both for-profit and not-for-profit corporations. He has worked in senior management positions for Digital Equipment, Polaroid, and General Electric Corporation. He later built on these management skills and along with his wife started United Homes for Children, Inc. a not-for-profit Human Service Agency, serving children within the foster care division of the Massachusetts Department of Social Services. He served on several Commissions under four Governors, including Supreme Court Commission Task force on Juvenile Justice, Department of Human Services Advisory Committee, Department of Youth Services Advisory Committee, and Chaired a Gubernatorial  Human Services Transition Team. Reverend Richardson and his wife have resided in Lakeland since 2003. He is an Ordained Minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church; a member of the Interdenominational Ministers Alliance (IMA) of Lakeland; and serves as a Commissioner of the Lakeland Housing Authority.
 
Stephanie Colon:  Ms. Colon has been employed in the banking industry for 17 years and currently serves as Assistant Vice President of Business Banking at Community Southern Bank.  She has actively volunteered on numerous civic boards and currently serves as Co-Chair of Emerge Lakeland, (a Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Central Florida Partnership for Young Professionals) and also serves on their Steering and Events Committees.  She was recently recognized as one of the “Polk Emerging Leaders” showcasing young professionals ages 21-42 for their community service.  She is also a recipient of the 2012 Girls Inc., "She Knows Where She's Going” award, Leadership Lakeland Class XXX graduate and Leadership Lakeland Alumni Association, in addition to service with numerous other local boards and organizations. 
 
Don Brown:  Mr. Brown currently serves as President of the Lakeland Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as well as the 3rd Vice President of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP.  He also currently serves as a Parent Outreach Coordinator with the Polk County School Board in addition to being a former educator, university recruiter for Bethune-Cookman University and retiree of the U.S Naval Reserve.
 
Tim Jackson:  Mr. Jackson currently serves as Chairman of the Board for the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce. Prior to his role as Chairman, he served the Chamber as a member of their Board of Directors, Executive Committee, and Vice-Chair Communications and Public Policy Committees. Tim has worked in the field of Construction Management and Real Estate Development since 1989.  In 2005 he moved to Lakeland and joined NuJak Companies and serves a variety of public sector clients within the construction management and real estate sectors.  He recently served as NuJak’s Project Executive in the partnership with Skanska USA on the construction of Florida’s new 12th public university, Florida Polytechnic University. He has been involved in numerous community organizations including service as Co-Chair of the 2013 Lakeland Police Advisory Commission, in addition to leadership roles with Habitat for Humanity, Lakeland Vision and the Polk Museum of Art.  He is Leadership Lakeland Class XV graduate, and a member of the Leadership Lakeland Alumni Association.
 
In addition to the above stakeholders, Thomas has also appointed the following City of Lakeland staff members to serve on the Advisory Committee:
 
Tim McCausland – City Attorney
Tony Delgado – Deputy City Manager
Brad Johnson – Assistant City Manager
Mark Farrington – Human Resources/Civil Service Director


LAKELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT PARTNERS WITH THE LEDGER

TO SOLVE COLD CASE CRIMES

 

 

LAKELAND, FL (May 28, 2014) - The City of Lakeland Police Department is teaming up with The Ledger to present information to the community regarding 40 unsolved cold cases that they are trying to solve.  Lakeland Police Department Chief Larry Giddens said, “Some of these crimes go back decades and we are pleased to be working with The Ledger to help solve these cases.” He added, “Perhaps we can get a lead or as we share information, someone will remember a detail that will be just the spark that we need to close a case.”

 

The Ledger will be publishing a three-part series on the City’s cold cases and unsolved murders. The series will run Sunday through Tuesday but will continue for months as The Ledger profiles some of the more interesting cases every other week.

 

Lenore Devore, Editor for The Ledger said, “The goal is to bring the community together to solve some of the cases. It’s easy to criticize law enforcement for not solving crimes and it’s much harder when you realize that people with key evidence won’t cooperate. That’s what LPD says it faced for a long time – a community often unwilling to get involved.”  She added “We hop that publicizing the information will make the community more aware and someone will step forward with a key piece of information.”

 

“In the past few months, community involvement has combined with excellent detective work to solve several homicides and shootings quickly,” said Assistant Chief Mike Link. “Things have gotten better and people are calling in tips, whether anonymous or not and that’s a step in the right direction."

 

Law enforcement officials often dedicate years of service to solve murders, battling frustration, fatigue and at times depression trying to clear just one crime. They deal with family members who range from understanding to inconsolable to very angry because of the many questions that are still left unanswered.  Who did it? Why? Was the victim the target or an innocent bystander? Why isn’t there a conviction? Why hasn’t justice been served?

 

The series, titled “It Takes a Community to Solve a Murder,” culminates with a community forum from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on June 5th in the City Commission chambers at Lakeland City Hall, 228 S. Massachusetts Ave.

During the forum, citizens will hear from:

·      Assistant Police Chief Link

·      Cold case supervisor Jeff Birdwell

·      Detective Brad Grice

·      Brian Haas, spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office

·      Local psychologist and Ledger columnist Dr. Berney Wilkinson

·      The Rev. Arthur Johnson

·      The mother of a slain man, Linda Cook Thames 

 

Each panelist will bring their own perspective to dealing with unsolved murders and cold cases, from why some cases cannot be solved quickly to the toll cases take on families and detectives to the efforts made to raise community awareness.

 

This is a chance for the community to get involved in the conversation and to show your support for the Lakeland Police Department. Join us June 5th to hear from our esteemed panelists. If you have a question you’d like answered during the forum, please send it to coldcases@theledger.com; the best questions will be asked at the forum.  


The Lakeland Police Department has a tips hotline that is available for community members to report crime information/criminal activity 24-hours a day, 365 days per year. To access the hotline you can contact 863/834-2549, or e-mail us at tips@lakelandgov.net To report information on a cold case file, contact Lakeland Police through e-mail at coldcasetips@lakelandgov.net


Information is accepted anonymously, or the caller may leave information to be contacted by an investigator. All information regarding reporting persons is held in strict confidence, and shall not be divulged to any party. Remember, it takes a community to solve a murder!

-END-


 


GANG TASK FORCE COMMUNITY FORUM

MAY 2OTH COLEMAN BUSH BUILDING @ 6PM

 

 LAKELAND, FL (May 7, 2014) - On Tuesday, May 20th there will be a Gang Task Force Community Forum at the Coleman-Bush Building starting at 6 p.m. In response to a number of recent gang influenced shootings, a Community Task Force has been established to help find solutions to combat growing concerns about gang activity.

 

Commissioner Phillip Walker, Chair of the Gang Task Force said, “There have been a number of gang related shootings in the last several months and the purpose of the task force is to identify the steps needed to help curb gang membership within the community.”  He added, “We would like to give a Task Force update on where we are to date and share with residents on what they can do to assist us because this issue must be addressed by the community as well as law enforcement.”

 

In a meeting on gang related issues held November 2013, members of the community helped identify areas of immediate need that includes both prevention and suppression tactics. These next steps and an action update will be discussed at the community forum. 

1. Organize and identify 1,000 mentors that can serve as role models to troubled teens. This can include other high school students in addition to college students.

2. Collaborate existing youth programs to make sure each program operator knows and understands the existence, capacity and focus of other community based programs. Assess whether more and different types of programming is needed for 13 - 18 year-olds and identify funding concerns.

3. Initiate a partnership between law enforcement and the Polk County School Board to make sure educators are trained and aware of the critical role they play in identifying students who are being groomed or pressured to be part of a gang.  The community also asked that law enforcement instill a County-wide school based gang education program and law enforcement responded to community concerns with a stronger presence in known gang areas.

Mayor Howard Wiggs said, “We need to have a holistic approach to identify and reduce the number of individuals who look at gangs as the answer to their problems.  The current gang issues affect all of us and we need to work together in finding a community solution.” 

 

LPD Assistant Chief Rick Taylor said, “In Lakeland we have approximately 300 documented gang members and associates. Right now we have 46 listed gangs with four very active gangs operating within our community.” The City of Lakeland asks the community to attend this important meeting as we work toward solutions to curb gang membership and identify resources needed to help reduce gang violence.  For more information on gang activity in Florida, please visit www.floridagangreduction.com and visitwww.lakelandgov.net/RefusetoLose.aspx to get more information on community youth programs and gang related topics.