City News Blog

rss

The latest happenings in your city government.


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.

 


LPD CHIEF GIDDENS COMPLAINTS BY RETIRED OFFICER MOCK DETERMINED TO BE UNFOUNDED – GIDDENS EXONERATED

LAKELAND, FL (April 10, 2014) - City Manager Doug Thomas recently completed the internal investigation associated with retired Police Officer Jimmy Mock’s complaint against Chief Giddens and Lisa Womack.   The allegations made by Mr. Mock against Chief Giddens were determined to be unfounded in two instances and Chief Giddens was exonerated in the third allegation.  Lisa Womack was exonerated in the sole allegation made against her by Mr. Mock.   

Thomas said, “We fully investigated the allegations made by Mr. Mock through the Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards and after complete review, the findings prove to be unfounded on two of the allegations and Chief Giddens was exonerated in the third allegation.”  He added, “We take these allegations very seriously and we continue to push the Department to be the best that they can be.  We are in the final stages of completing the other internal investigation involving a complaint against Chief Giddens and that investigation is expected to be concluded and released to the media next week.” 

Please find attached a copy of the Investigative Report Summary, as well as the related Findings and Recommended Action Forms to Chief Giddens and Lisa Womack.  Also attached is a copy of the transmittal letter to Mr. Mock informing him of the findings of the investigation. 

-END-


 

Arrest in Homicide Investigation of Gregory Allen Ross Jr.

 

Suspect Information:
Jimmy Jermaine Brown, B/M,
DOB 11/16/84
814 Quincy Street, Lakeland, Fla

 

LAKELAND, FL (March 11, 2014) On Saturday, March 8, 2014, at approximately 8:23 p.m., the Lakeland Police Department responded to 833 N. Florence Avenue in reference to a homicide. Inside the dwelling officers discovered Gregory Allen Ross Jr. (B/M 06/17/94) deceased from apparent gunshot wounds. At the time of the homicide, the dwelling was being utilized as an illegal drug distribution point commonly known as a drug trap house. Evidence found inside the dwelling included firearms and illegal drugs. Crime scene personnel recovered spent bullet casings and projectiles inside the dwelling.

On Monday, March 10, 2014, an autopsy was conducted at the Medical Examiner’s Office by Dr. Nelson. The results of the procedure identified five gunshot wounds to the decedent, to include shots to the head and upper torso area.

According to two witnesses that were in the dwelling prior to the homicide, only four people were inside which consisted of: Jimmy Brown, the decedent and two witnesses. Both witnesses had left the dwelling when they heard five separate gunshots. One of the witnesses returned to the dwelling and observed Jimmy Brown running out the front door. The witness followed Jimmy Brown for several blocks before catching up with him. The witness stated that Jimmy Brown told him he had robbed the decedent of an amount of drugs, to include powder cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana, which he showed the witness. Jimmy Brown told the witness he accidentally shot the decedent during a struggle.

Detectives obtained the arrest warrant on March 11th and attempted to locate Brown at various locations throughout the evening. Jimmy Brown later turned himself in at the Lakeland Police Department yesterday evening without incident and was later transported to the Polk County Jail.

 

 

 


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