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The latest happenings in your city government.


Congrats to Wayne Epperson on his promotion to Battalion Chief for the Lakeland Fire Department

 

On Wednesday, September 4, 2013 long time veteran of the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD), Wayne Epperson, was promoted to the officer position of Battalion Chief.   

Bat. Chief Epperson was joined by family, friends, colleagues, and an extended network of City of Lakeland representatives, including Mayor Gow Fields, to celebrate his professional advancement.

Wayne began his career with the LFD in 1985 and served as a firefighter, fire instructor, driver-engineer, and lieutenant, having held the latter position for 17 years. Speakers at the ceremony including Fire Chief Gary Ballard, Assistant Chief Rick Hartzog, Bat. Chief Mike Williams, and Bat. Chief Jeff Wharton all concurred that Bat. Chief Epperson is one of the most honest, dedicated, and deserving individuals they know within the organization. Wayne has been heavily involved with training efforts throughout his career and through his many years of experience and leadership will undoubtedly further elevate the position.

 

A big congratulations to Wayne Epperson and sincere thanks to him for the many years of dedicated service he has provided the people of Lakeland.

 


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

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

 

 


FORMER JUDGE MONTEREY CAMPBELL REPORTS ON LPD PUBLIC RECORD PROCESS

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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QUICK MOVING STORM RESULTS IN THOUSANDS WITHOUT POWER

QUICK MOVING STORM RESULTS IN THOUSANDS WITHOUT POWER

 

LAKELAND, FL (August 22, 2013) - At the peak of yesterday’s very intense storm there were 15,052 Lakeland Electric customers who were without power.  The storm moved through the area quickly but Lakeland Linder Regional Airport reported 65 mph winds with some areas of Lakeland also receiving over two-inches of rain.   Most of Lakeland Electric’s customers who initially lost energy due to the storm had their electricity restored quickly because of system control’s ability to reroute power. 

 

However, as of 8:30 p.m. last night about 800 customers were without power and as of 8:00 a.m. this morning approximately 200 customers are still without power. Lakeland Electric still has the following issues to repair:

-          6 Bad transformers

-          3 Broken poles

-          19 locations with downed wires

Lakeland Electric had 50 line workers who worked diligently overnight to restore power.  Twenty-eight fresh crew members reported this morning to continue the restoration work. Lakeland Electric has also enlisted the help of Bartow and Kissimmee who are each sending four crew members to assist in final restoration.

 

For more information regarding Lakeland Electric go to www.lakelandelectric.com and to view up to date power outages click on the Power Outage Tracker button on the home page. The Outage Tracker shows a map with the current outages for the Lakeland Electric Service Territory. The map is updated every five minutes in order to give customers the most recent information.

 

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