City News Blog


This is the official blog of the City of Lakeland, Florida. Check back frequently to stay up to date with all that going on in our beautiful city!

LAKELAND, FL (September 7, 2016) On September 5th at 1:14 a.m., members of the Uniform Patrol Division responded to Max Jewelers, 1553 Town Center Drive, in reference to an alarm activation. Officers discovered that unknown subjects shattered the front glass window and the front door. The jewelry case inside the store on the northeast side, was shattered and appeared to have jewelry items removed from it.

Miscellaneous rings, bracelets and other assorted jewelry items were missing according to a store representative, Abdullah Madi. A store surveillance tape revealed three black male subjects making a force entry into the business. 

At approximately 2:54 a.m. that same morning, Polk County Sheriff’s Deputy Bolin spotted a stolen vehicle traveling southbound on Highway 27. The vehicle, a 2008 GMC Sierra pickup, had been reported stolen out of Winter Haven on September 4th.  The Haines City Police Department assisted and a short pursuit ensued. A deputy initiated a precision immobilization technique (PIT) to stop the vehicle. The vehicle crashed in a ditch on Highway 27 at 915 Roberts Road, Lake Hamilton. The passenger was immediately apprehended.  The driver fled on foot and was observed jumping a fence at a business. Haines City Police Department K-9 located and apprehended the driver.

During the course of this investigation, it was discovered that both subjects were in possession of a backpack containing jewelry from Max Jewelers. 

Driver has been identified as: Christopher Dwayne Lewis, 17 years old of 1700 2nd Street NW, Winter Haven. Lewis has been charged with Burglary to an Unoccupied Structure, Grand Theft and Possession of Burglary Tools.

Passenger has been identified as Jovan Tavarus Washington, 15 years of age of 1700 2nd Street NW, Winter Haven. Washington has been charged with Burglary to an Unoccupied Structure and Grand Theft. 

Detectives have identified the third subject involved and additional charges may be forthcoming pending further investigation. The name of the third subject is not being released at this time. Detectives are continuing to investigate this case working with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Winter Haven and Haines City Police Department. For additional information on the stolen vehicle, apprehension and additional charges, please contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Haines City Police Department.

Lakeland, FL (September 7, 2016)- The Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) and the Lakeland Police Department (LPD) are excited to present a new “Keep 911 for Emergencies” public safety campaign. The campaign features four public service announcements and related print materials aimed at reminding the community that 911 is for emergencies only and that it should be used responsibly. 

Both LFD and LPD receive a high number of calls for service (22,515 and 108,657, respectively, in 2015). These calls are managed by the Lakeland Public Safety 911 Communications Center, which dispatched 131,172 calls for service last year.

The Lakeland Fire Department and the Lakeland Police Department joined forces to address these issues of mutual concern in hopes of improving response with their current resources while in the process helping make Lakeland a safer community; a priority for both agencies. 

The Lakeland Public Safety 911 Communications Center was consulted when developing this campaign to identify the most common examples of 911 misuse. In Lakeland’s case the leading issues in 911 misuse were: accidental dialing from cell phones by both unknowing adults or children on mobile devices; non-emergency medical calls; and parents calling 911 to threaten disobedient children. Individual public service announcements were created for each of these issues.

The public service announcements are available at:

Lakeland Fire Department | YouTube | Facebook

Lakeland Police Department | YouTube | Facebook

The PSAs may also be downloaded for redistribution at . They will also be shown on the City of Lakeland’s Public Access Channel, LGN.

Everyone is encouraged to share these messages to promote responsible 911 use. 

For interviews, filming, and more information please contact:

Janel Vasallo

Office: (863) 834-8219 | | Lakeland Fire Department

Robin Tillett

Office: (863) 834-2963 | | Lakeland Police Department


LAKELAND, FL (August 26, 2016) - The City of Lakeland will be starting a shoreline stabilization and restoration project with construction beginning September 12th on the south side of Lake Hollingsworth in the vicinity of the public access boat ramp.  The project is expected to be completed by January 31, 2017.  The public access boat ramp and parking lot will remain open during the project. 

The shoreline in this location has experienced significant erosion and destabilization over recent years contributing to the measurable loss of shoreline area, exposure of tree root systems and subsequent loss of several trees.   

Laurie Smith, Manager of Lakes & Stormwater said, “If left unabated, additional erosion and loss of shoreline would continue.  We will be installing a low profile sea wall constructed of Truline brand hybrid recycled materials specially designed to stabilize the shoreline and prevent additional erosion.” 

Three sets of concrete steps will be set into the seawall for access to the lake.  The City of Lakeland Lakes & Stormwater Division met with several user groups in researching shoreline stabilization solutions.  Custom Built Marine of Port St. Lucie, FL was awarded the contract for the seawall installation project at a cost of $192,000. 

Lakeland, FL (August 25, 2016) – The Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) is proud to announce that one of its long serving firefighters, Lieutenant Matt Allan Brown, will be recognized on August 31, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio as The American Legion’s National Firefighter of the Year.

This distinguished award will be presented at The American Legion’s 98th Annual Convention held at Cincinnati’s Duke Energy Convention Center. 

The award is highly prestigious and is only given to one firefighter in the nation per year. The American Legion explains that “The award recognizes those firefighters who have selflessly distinguished themselves over and above their normal duties predominantly though service activities, professional achievements, and heroic acts”. 

Lieutenant Brown was selected because of his high level of involvement and service in the Lakeland community outside of his duties as a firefighter, his dedication in service while at the department, and for several heroic actions while off duty. Matt serves the department as a Lieutenant as well as the department’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team coordinator and SWAT Paramedic team coordinator. He is also highly involved in the community through his work as part of the Lakeland Rotary Club and is a graduate of Leadership Lakeland, Class XXXIII. 

One of the heroic incidents that led to this award was when Lieutenant Brown stepped in to provide medical aid while off duty in an incident which involved an officer being shot by a suspect while in pursuit. The second event took place in a local supermarket parking lot, where an elderly patient had a medical episode in a moving vehicle that proceeded to crash into parked vehicles. Lieutenant Brown, once again while off duty, sprang into action to assist the patient and contain the incident.

These heroic actions led to local and state level awards in 2015 for Lieutenant Brown prior to the national award he will accept August 31.

For interview requests and more information please contact Janel Vasallo.


Janel Vasallo, Public Relations & Information Manager | 863/834-8219