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The latest happenings in your city government.


 
LAKELAND, FL (January 8, 2015) — The City of Lakeland is offering its 14th Annual Citizens Academy to area residents starting February 26, 2015.  The Citizens Academy is a free, hands-on, interactive public information program that familiarizes citizens with City services and the functions of City Departments.
 
The Lakeland Citizens Academy allows residents to get a behind the scenes look of how City government operates and it provides an outlet for citizen input. The program consists of six (6), two (2) hour evening sessions. 
 

2015 Session Dates


February 26 History & Finance

March 5          Police Department

March 12        Fire Department

March 19        Public Works & Planning

March 26            Utility Services

April 9          Parks & Recreation           


The program is limited to 30 citizens aged 16 or older.  Enrollment in the class is based on a first-come-first-served basis.  All participants interested in the Citizens Academy are encouraged to attend all of the sessions in order to get the most from the program.
 
All sessions, unless otherwise noted, are from 6-8 p.m. The first session will take place in the City Commission Chambers at City Hall, 228 South Massachusetts Avenue (a light dinner is served at 5:45 p.m. during all sessions).  At least half of the sessions will meet away from City Hall and directions will be given for each City building or facility that hosts a Citizen Academy session.
 
The class will graduate with a certificate in “Governmentology”  at the end of the last session and a catered meal will be served.  Those interested in participating should contact Kevin Cook at 863/834-6264 or kevin.cook@lakelandgov.net to secure a spot on the roster.
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Barricaded Gunman Killed in Standoff with LakelandPD - 
Another body found inside

The Lakeland Police Department responded to 2804 Kathryn Avenue in reference to a male subject inside stating that someone had committed suicide. The suspect had notified an ex in-law who in return called the police department. Officers arrived on the scene and observed a male subject through the front window that was armed with a rifle.

The officers were able to make contact with the suspect via a cell phone and begin a dialog at which time the suspect repeatedly made threats that he wanted law enforcement to shoot him. During the incident, the Lakeland Police Department SWAT team responded to assist. At approximately 11:00pm, the suspect was shot by several members of the SWAT Team after he approached them with the rifle. It is unknown at this time how many rounds were fired or how many officers fired their weapons.

The identity of the suspect is not being released at this time until we confirm his identity. Another unidentified body has been located inside the residence deceased. This investigation is ongoing and an update will be sent out within a few hours.

Media inquiries should be directed to 863.583-2357.


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




The Lakeland Police Department recently arrested Carl Stewart Jr., a known burglary suspect, and he has been directly linked to six residential burglaries.  On August 3rd, Stewart was arrested and he has been charged with burglary and grand theft. He has been charged with the following residential burglaries: 

         LPD Event #14-15691 – 2421 Cambridge Avenue (7/31/14)

         LPD Event #14-15814 – 620 Chatham Drive (8/1/14)

         LPD Event #14-15932 – 715 W Magnolia Street (8/3/14)

         LPD Event #14-15924 – 2608 Jonila Avenue (8/6/14)

         LPD Event #13-25175 – 2205 Fairmont Avenue (12/29/13)

         LPD Event #14-62 – 600 Easton Drive (1/2/14)

Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens said, “Stewart has an extensive criminal history and is well known by  departmental  members. By combining this knowledge and excellent teamwork exhibited by patrol, K-9, and our detectives Stewart was arrested and taken off our streets".  LPD asks that citizens keep their doors and windows locked in their homes and advise residents to not leave their garage door up when not in use.  Giddens said, “We ask citizens to be vigilant and if something doesn’t look right, then please call us so we can check it out.” 

There have been a number of car break-ins lately and the Lakeland Police Department would like to remind citizens to “Lock It, or Lose It”.  When cars are left unlocked, it provides an easy opportunity for a thief to burglarize property. The vast majority of vehicle burglaries reported to the Lakeland Police Department could be avoided if citizens would take an extra minute to make sure valuables are removed from vehicles, hidden from view or locked in the trunk. 

If you want more information on crimes that may be occurring in your neighborhood, you can go to the Lakeland Police Department website at www.lakelandgov.net/lpd and click on the RAIDSONLINE Crime Mapping tool.  Through this service, you can find information on crimes that are occurring in your neighborhood, or anywhere else in the city.