City News Blog


The latest happenings in your city government.


There will be a press conference at the Lakeland Police Department (219 N. Massachusetts Avenue) in room 3A at 3 p.m

LAKELAND, FL (February 27, 2015) - The City is disappointed to inform the community that Tony Kirk has withdrawn his application as Assistant Chief of the Lakeland Police Department. Kirk was scheduled to start on Monday, March 2nd. Kirk communicated with Chief Giddens earlier this morning that he was withdrawing his application for Assistant Chief of Police effective at 10 a.m. on Friday, February 27th.

Background investigations for police officers are rigorous and Kirk went through a thorough background check for the Assistant Chief position. It was only during the final stages of the new hire process when inconsistencies involving Kirks’s application arose. Kirk explained that he inadvertently indicated that he had never tried marijuana on his internal new hire paperwork, however during the polygraph process he admitted to trying marijuana when he was 20 years old. The use of marijuana so many years ago would not prevent employment with the Lakeland Police Department. However the inconsistencies between the new hire forms and his later admissions regarding marijuana use triggered concerns.

City Manager Doug Thomas said, “This is a very unfortunate incident and we were looking very forward to Kirk joining our team but our law enforcement personnel are held to a high standard and as insignificant as it may sound, inaccuracies between his application and the polygraph process automatically disqualifies a candidate to move forward.” He added, “I wish we weren’t in this situation and I’m truly saddened for Tony and his family under the circumstances that we now find ourselves in.”

Larry Giddens, Chief of Police said, “I’m deeply disappointed that we came so far and this is an unfortunate conclusion to what I thought was going to be a very good addition to our team at the Lakeland Police Department.” He added, “The Lakeland Police Department is full of honorable men and women and we will continue to move forward in making this Department the very best it can be.”


Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 Lakeland Police Department Citizens Academy. Classes will begin on Thursday, August 13, 2015 and conclude on November 19, 2015 with a graduation ceremony. This in-depth academy runs for fifteen (15) consecutive weeks with classes meeting every Thursday night from 6:30PM - 9:30PM. An additional firearms familiarization course is also covered one Saturday where participants will be given a chance to test their skills at the firing range.

The Citizens Police Academy (CPA) is designed for selected community-oriented citizens. The CPA includes detailed information on police topics such as uniformed patrol, special investigations (i.e., vice and narcotics), crime scene investigation, SWAT, K9 and many other areas of interest. Also included in the curriculum is a tour of the police station and communications center.

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age. You do not have to reside within the city of Lakeland to be accepted.

Although graduates of the CPA are not prepared for street duties, they do have a better understanding of the Lakeland Police Department and a greater awareness and appreciation of the challenges and decisions faced by Lakeland police officers each day.

The Lakeland Police Department is committed to fostering positive Citizen-Police interaction and cooperation. One effective way to achieve this goal is through citizen education into the philosophy of community-oriented policing.

Click here to download an application.


Barricaded Gunman Killed in Standoff with LakelandPD - 
Another body found inside

The Lakeland Police Department responded to 2804 Kathryn Avenue in reference to a male subject inside stating that someone had committed suicide. The suspect had notified an ex in-law who in return called the police department. Officers arrived on the scene and observed a male subject through the front window that was armed with a rifle.

The officers were able to make contact with the suspect via a cell phone and begin a dialog at which time the suspect repeatedly made threats that he wanted law enforcement to shoot him. During the incident, the Lakeland Police Department SWAT team responded to assist. At approximately 11:00pm, the suspect was shot by several members of the SWAT Team after he approached them with the rifle. It is unknown at this time how many rounds were fired or how many officers fired their weapons.

The identity of the suspect is not being released at this time until we confirm his identity. Another unidentified body has been located inside the residence deceased. This investigation is ongoing and an update will be sent out within a few hours.

Media inquiries should be directed to 863.583-2357.

Kevin Cook
Director of Communications
City of Lakeland
Twitter @lakelandgov








LAKELAND, FL (December 17, 2014) – City Manager Doug Thomas is very pleased to announce that two of 

the threefinalists for the Lakeland Police Department’s Chief of Police will be part of the administration that will continue to move the Department forward. Larry Giddens who was serving as the Department’s Interim Chief was named Lakeland’s Chief of Police and Lieutenant Colonel Tony Kirk will move from his current position as Deputy Chief in Topeka, Kansas to serve as an Assistant Chief with the Lakeland Police Department.


Thomas said, “We really got the best of both worlds with Chief Giddens who has continually served this community unselfishly for over 30 years and Assistant Chief Kirk who will bring his 27 years of law enforcement experience to Lakeland.   I really don’t think it could have worked out any better. It is rare to have undergone a national search and be in a position to appoint two top leaders in the field of law enforcement to the benefit of Lakeland’s Police Department.  I want to thank the members of my Advisory Selection Committee for all their hard work in vetting the candidates and they are very supportive of the ability to appoint two of the three finalists to be part of Lakeland Police Department’s senior administrative leadership team.”  


Giddens started his career with the Lakeland Police Department as an auxiliary officer in 1984.  He was hired full-time in 1985 as a patrol officer on the Uniform Patrol Division.  He successfully excelled through the ranks serving on Special Weapons & Tactics, Street Crimes Unit, Hostage Negotiations, Special Investigations and Community Services. As Captain, Giddens was the Commanding Officer of the Uniform Patrol Division and he was named Assistant Chief of Police in 2011 overseeing the Neighborhood Services Bureau.  He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from St. Leo University, a Certified Public Manager, and attended the Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP) and a graduate of the 223rd Session of the FBI National Academy. Giddens has served as the Interim Chief of Police since February 2014.


Giddens said, “I am honored and humbled to serve my hometown community as the Chief of Police.  I have worked very hard to get to this stage and want to thank those that served on the Advisory Selection Committee and City Manager Doug Thomas for their hard work in this process.  I also want to thank my family for their undying support, as well as the members of the Police Department, associates from the City of Lakeland, our community leaders and the overwhelming number of citizens who have supported this agency throughout the process.” He added, “I moved into the Interim Chief of Police position with the intentions on improving relations with the media and the State Attorney’s office as well as solidifying strong partnerships with our fellow local, regional, state and federal law enforcement agencies.  I’m eager to bring my experience and skills to this position and with Tony Kirk joining our administrative team, we are going to continue to get better as an agency.”


Kirk started his career as a patrol officer and like Giddens, he has continually moved up within the Topeka Police Department.  Early in his career Kirk served as a Narcotics Officer, Community Police Officer and a Detective. In 2005, he was named Major over Criminal Investigations, then he moved to Special Operations and Field Operations before being named Deputy Chief of Police in 2012.  Kirk served as Interim Chief of Police from August 2014 to October 2014.  Kirk is also a Staff Sergeant with the Kansas Army National Guard, and holds both a Masters and Bachelor of Science from Friends University in Wichita, Kansas.  He is also a graduate of the 221st Session of the FBI National Academy.

Kirk said, “I am truly humbled and honored by the opportunity that City Manager Doug Thomas and Chief Giddens have afforded me. While certainly I was competing for the top job, the opportunity to join a first-class organization such as the Lakeland Police Department in this capacity was totally unexpected.” He added “I am excited and looking forward to working with the men and woman of the LPD. I’ve had in-depth conversations with Chief Giddens and Asst. Chief Mike Link. I am looking forward to working with these gentleman and the rest of the senior command staff as we carry the Lakeland Police Department into the future.  My family is very excited about this opportunity and looks forward to being a part of the Lakeland community.


Giddens appointment is effective immediately will make $145,000 per year and he is 52 years old and Kirk is expected to start with the Lakeland Police Department on or before March 15, 2015. He will be making $122,000 per year and is 49 years old.