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CITY OF LAKELAND EXPANDED RED LIGHT CAMERA PROGRAM GOES LIVE SEPTEMBER 1ST

 

LAKELAND, FL (August 27, 2013) - The City of Lakeland will increase the number of red light safety cameras on Sept. 1, expanding a traffic safety program with a positive record of decreasing dangerous red light running violations.

 

Nine additional cameras at six intersections will be added to the City’s current program of nine cameras. The new arrangement will provide photo enforcement at 11 intersections. For 30 days beginning Sept. 1, authorities will issue warning notices without fines for red-light running violations captured by the new cameras. The warning period gives drivers time to adjust to the presence of 24-hour enforcement. Once the warning phase ends, police will issue citations with $158 fines for running a red light.

 

A 10th camera location is still under consideration based on future FDOT construction at the North Florida and Memorial Boulevard location.  This intersection was originally listed as the number one location of the additional top ten intersections based on the criteria used in choosing new proposed Red Light Camera locations. 

 

Since the city began its photo enforcement program, red-light running violations at intersections with cameras have fallen 77% from the first full month of operation in June 2009 compared with April 2013, the most recent available monthly data. Decreases in violations indicate a change in driver behavior and improved safety because of a diminished opportunity for dangerous red-light running crashes.

 

Another indication that the program is improving driver behavior is the 11 percent recidivism rate, which shows that 89% of vehicle owners who received a red-light running violation from June 2009 through April 2013 did not get a second ticket, indicating drivers are getting the message to stop on red.

 

“This is a public safety program that deters red-light running crashes by changing driver behavior. In our community, drivers are getting the message to stop on red. We know that red-light safety cameras are making our streets safer and saving lives,” said Lakeland’s Police Chief Lisa Womack. The new red-light safety cameras are located at the following intersections:

 

  • WB W Memorial Blvd @ Martin L King Jr Ave/ North Dakota Ave
  • WB E Memorial Blvd @ N Massachusetts Ave
  • EB E Memorial Blvd @ N Massachusetts Ave
  • NB Harden Blvd @ W Beacon Rd
  • SB Harden Blvd @ North Pkwy Frontage Rd
  • NB Bartow Rd/US 98 @ N Crystal Lk
  • SB Bartow Rd/US 98 @ N Crystal Lk
  • SB US 98 @ Griffin Rd
  • NB US 98 @ Griffin Rd

 

 

The value of Lakeland’s red-light safety camera program includes more than public safety. By reducing traffic crashes, one red-light safety cameras saves Lakeland an average of $150,151 annually in avoided crash costs.

 

This year alone, the City submitted $512,000 in red-light running ticket fines to the State of Florida, a portion of which goes to hospitals and medical research. The vast majority of fines are paid by drivers outside of Lakeland. Residents here received 7% of all red-light running citations since the program began through April 2013.

 

Cameras operate 24 hours a day and capture images of vehicles when they run a red light at a controlled intersection. All violations are issued after a sworn LPD Officer  reviews the photographic and video evidence. Signs posted along the street in advance of a RLC controlled intersection  alert drivers that red-light safety cameras are in use at the intersection ahead. Warnings and citations will be mailed to the owner of the vehicle identified in the red-light running photographic evidence, as provided for in state law.

 

The City of Lakeland has contracted with American Traffic Solutions Inc. (ATS) which provides red light and speed enforcement programs in nearly 300 communities across North America.  Additional information regarding the City of Lakeland’s traffic safety program can be found atwww.lakelandgov.net

 

 


LAKELAND, FL (August 23, 2013) -- The City of Lakeland has received its final report from former Judge Monterey Campbell regarding the review of the Lakeland Police Department’s (LPD) public record process.  Judge Campbell was retained by the City to specifically review LPD’s public record requests processes to ensure conformance with Florida Statutes and provide recommendations regarding potential enhancements to current practices.  Campbell concluded that LPD has procedures in place to provide full disclosure to the satisfaction of the requesting party.  (A complete copy of Judge Campbell’s report)  It can also be accessed at www.lakelandgov.net/LPDUpdate.aspx.
 
The report states that in the spirit of full disclosure, if there is a gray area of whether a law enforcement exemption to disclosure applies and it is not harmful to LPD’s duty to protect the public, then LPD should err on the side of releasing the information.  Campbell said, “I am reliably assured that where possible that will be the policy and practice that LPD intends to follow going forward, even if it has been perceived not to have been so in the past.”
 
As part of the study into the public records process at LPD, Campbell met with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), the Tampa Police Department (TPD) and he visited editorial staff from The Ledger.  In the report, Campbell noted that the procedures adopted and in place and the practices followed by all of the law enforcement agencies were very similar.  Campbell suggested that LPD continue to work with the PCSO and TPD in a collaborative effort to assist each other in helpful procedures that further the freedom of access of public records.
 
Chief Womack said, “I am very pleased that Judge Campbell found our process very similar to the PCSO and TPD.  We will continue to review best practices and foster collaborative relationships with our neighboring law enforcement agencies.”   She added, “Judge Campbell met with myself and senior staff at LPD and he particularly liked some of the practices that we have put in place like our Public Records Handbook and the Public Records Training Guide that was designed to be a quick reference to answer common questions that pertain to public records access.”
 
“I am persuaded that LPD is taking every step necessary to provide a willing and cooperative openness to their records in accord with the basic interest, purpose and requirement of our public records laws,” said Campbell.  “Chief Womack assured me of her intent and policy that LPD will freely provide complete openness to their records except where the law established that public safety and third party interests require that certain restrictions are applicable.”
 
The report states that it is important that the public has confidence that LPD will perform its disclosure responsibilities in good faith. Campbell said, “My consideration of the process currently in place with LPD and the practices being followed regarding compliance with public records requests has persuaded me that there exists a good faith effort to meet the rightful expectations of the public.”
 
City Manager Doug Thomas said, “I‘ve had a chance to briefly review the report and it seems as though the practices that the LPD has implemented regarding public records disclosure have resulted in a favorable review by Judge Campbell.  We will continue to consider further enhancements in both the LPD’s and the City of Lakeland’s public record requests processes such as implementing specialized  records tracking software, expanding communication capabilities and improved media relations.”
 
Campbell concluded the report by noting a court observation regarding public records disclosure, “the purpose behind the examination of the various provisions for exemptions, restrictions and confidentiality pertaining to public records disclosure is not to decide whether there are sufficient reasons to release requested information but rather decide whether there are sufficient reasons not to release it.”  Campbell said, “It appears to me that LPD understands and is on course of applying that concept.”
 
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On August 15, 2013, Lakeland Police finalized disciplinary action on Detective Ricky J. Gries. 

Detective Gries submitted a letter of resignation today. The resignation was in lieu of recommended termination. Chief Womack completed her review of all the relevant facts and evidence presented in the administrative investigation, including statements Detective Gries made under oath in conjunction with the State Attorney’s related investigation. The sustained violations are: 

Ricky J. Gries, 42, employed since 1/13/03. (Resigned) 

a. Conduct Unbecoming 
b. Member’s Duty to Report Misconduct 
c. Neglect of Duty 
d. Untruthfulness 

We are unable to provide any further information due to the ongoing internal investigation. 

 


CITY OF LAKELAND GENERAL EMPLOYEES DISCIPLINED FOR MISCONDUCT


view report / investigations of allegations by Sue Eberle 

 

LAKELAND, FL (August 15, 2013) – City Manager Doug Thomas announced today that the City of Lakeland has concluded an investigation of sexual misconduct allegations made by Sue Eberle that named six current non-sworn general employees. Based upon the results of the investigation, there is conclusive evidence that two of the six employees violated City of Lakeland policy and will receive recommended three-day suspensions without pay. 

 

On May 2, 2013, Thomas directed staff to have Lakeland Police Department (LPD) Office of Professional Standards take the lead on investigations involving all LPD sworn and civilian employees, including any Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) employees that may be subject to the Firefighter Bill of Rights, but all other General Employees would be reviewed by investigators from the Human Resources Department.  The Human Resources Investigators reported directly to the City Manager’s Office.  None of the employees named in the investigation supervised Eberle and none of them worked directly with her in the same Department at the time of the allegations.

 

Bryan Fluke, employed since January 1988 and currently a Maintenance Coordinator for Lakeland Electric, admitted to having a consensual relationship with Eberle while employed by the City.  This is substantiated by Eberle’s testimony which would indicate that the relationship commenced in the mid-1990.  Based on Fluke’s testimony, no inappropriate behavior took place at work or on City property.  However, Fluke did violate City email policy and he was untruthful in the investigation which is a policy violation for which he will receive a three-day suspension without pay.  Fluke’s only other disciplinary action involved a 1993 oral warning regarding a verbal dispute he had with another employee. 

 

Jose Diez, employed since February 2008 and currently an Information Technology Support Analyst III, admitted to more recent inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature with former LPD Crime Analyst Tiffany Dwyer outside a break room at the Lakeland Police Department.  Dwyer previously resigned on May 14, 2013 while under investigation.  Both Diez and Dwyer maintain that the conduct was consensual.  However, the conduct was inappropriate and it was a violation of City policy for which he will receive a three-day suspension without pay.  Diaz has no prior disciplinary actions.

 

Thomas stated “The City of Lakeland is clearly disappointed in the actions of Mr. Fluke and Mr. Diez that have been verified as violations of our Personnel Policies.  Their actions were clearly inappropriate and fall short of our organizational values that each and every employee is expected to reflect in their performance of their job responsibilities.”  

 

Other employees named within the investigation include:

 

Gary Gonyer, employed since September 1997 and currently a Traffic Control Foreman, admitted that he and Eberle had a consensual sexual relationship, but not on City time or on City property.  This information was substantiated by Eberle who stated that they had met offsite which is not a violation of City Policy.

 

Jerry Doss, employed since October 1980 is currently a Multicraft Operator, denied the allegations and there is not sufficient evidence to substantiate Eberle’s claims.

 

Shawn Maguire, employed since October 1988 and currently an Industrial Coatings Specialist, denied the allegation against him by Eberle and claimed he was physically incapable of performing the alleged act due to his recovery from  a serious work-related incident that left him in a full body cast and months of recovery as substantiated by workers compensation and medical records.

 

Dennis Herbert has been employed since July 2001 and he is currently a Safety Coordinator.  Eberle alleged that Hebert wanted to be more than co-workers which he denies.  The investigation failed to identify sufficient evidence to substantiate Eberle’s claim.

 

The investigation into the non-sworn general employees included two rounds of interviews with the named employees, a review of email records and  interviews with 15 current employees identified as co-workers and/or supervisors (who were possible witnesses of alleged inappropriate behavior) of the six named employees.  None of the 15 witness employees could substantiate Eberle’s specific allegations.  Also, the length of time that has lapsed between the conduct alleged and the interviews of the six named non-sworn employees affected their recall of the events as well as the ability to probe further given that some of the allegations date back to 1993.

 

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