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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


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!

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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. 

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