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The latest happenings in your city government.


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.

 


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.