City News Blog


The latest happenings in your city government.


CONTACT: Kevin Cook, Director of Communications (863-834-6264)


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


The Lakeland Police Department wants to remind motorists to Click It or Ticket this holiday season. Each year, the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel times, millions of people will be traveling to visit with family and friends. What this means is that there will be more vehicles on the roads, and more danger as we travel. It is always important to buckle up, but when there are the additional vehicles on the roads, it is more important than ever. We want everyone to have a happy and safe holiday season; therefore the Lakeland Police Department will join with departments across the state in the Click It or Ticket Safety Belt Enforcement Wave. The enforcement runs from Monday, November 17, 2014 through Sunday, November 30, 2014 at midnight. 

Nationwide, seat belt usage is at an all-time high of 87 percent, but the Click It or Ticket campaign aims to reach that remaining 14 percent. In 2012, there were 10,335 unbuckled occupants killed in crashes—52 percent of all passenger vehicle occupants killed that year. At night, the numbers are even more disturbing. During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2012, law enforcement noted that 69 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants killed at night were unrestrained, as compared to 46 percent during the day. 

The single best thing anyone can do to protect themselves and save lives is to buckle up. It only takes a second!

For more information about traveling safely during Thanksgiving, please visit

The Lakeland Police Department recently arrested Carl Stewart Jr., a known burglary suspect, and he has been directly linked to six residential burglaries.  On August 3rd, Stewart was arrested and he has been charged with burglary and grand theft. He has been charged with the following residential burglaries: 

         LPD Event #14-15691 – 2421 Cambridge Avenue (7/31/14)

         LPD Event #14-15814 – 620 Chatham Drive (8/1/14)

         LPD Event #14-15932 – 715 W Magnolia Street (8/3/14)

         LPD Event #14-15924 – 2608 Jonila Avenue (8/6/14)

         LPD Event #13-25175 – 2205 Fairmont Avenue (12/29/13)

         LPD Event #14-62 – 600 Easton Drive (1/2/14)

Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens said, “Stewart has an extensive criminal history and is well known by  departmental  members. By combining this knowledge and excellent teamwork exhibited by patrol, K-9, and our detectives Stewart was arrested and taken off our streets".  LPD asks that citizens keep their doors and windows locked in their homes and advise residents to not leave their garage door up when not in use.  Giddens said, “We ask citizens to be vigilant and if something doesn’t look right, then please call us so we can check it out.” 

There have been a number of car break-ins lately and the Lakeland Police Department would like to remind citizens to “Lock It, or Lose It”.  When cars are left unlocked, it provides an easy opportunity for a thief to burglarize property. The vast majority of vehicle burglaries reported to the Lakeland Police Department could be avoided if citizens would take an extra minute to make sure valuables are removed from vehicles, hidden from view or locked in the trunk. 

If you want more information on crimes that may be occurring in your neighborhood, you can go to the Lakeland Police Department website at and click on the RAIDSONLINE Crime Mapping tool.  Through this service, you can find information on crimes that are occurring in your neighborhood, or anywhere else in the city.   



LAKELAND, FL (June 18, 2014) - On Saturday, June 21st from 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. the City of Lakeland will join volunteers from a variety of organizations and churches to hold a community outreach event at 7th Street Park (1500 W. 7th Street, Lakeland FL 33805). 

Commissioner Phillip Walker, “This is an area that has recently experienced a number of gang involved shootings and the events is part of our Refuse to Lose anti-gang initiative as we work together to address this problem and keep our fingers on the pulse of this whole issue.  We will work with our faith based partners, the Polk County School Board, area law enforcement agencies and concerned citizens as we continue to move forward.”  He added, “We must all work together and let those know that we will not tolerate this behavior and we will use our resources to seek the maximum penalty allowed for those involved in gang activity." 

The outreach event will include neighborhood cleanup with volunteers stopping by every residence in the area with gift bags of food inviting them to the focal event at 7th Street Park.  Activities in the park will include:

·      Bounce Houses

·      Sports Camp hosted by Simpson Park

·      Kids Club hosted by Dream Center

·      Face Painting hosted by Southeastern University

·      Grilled Hotdogs hosted by Lakeland Fire Department

Pastor Mike Cooper from the Dream Center said, “We spend a great deal of time in these neighborhoods and this outreach event is just one way that we as a community can show support for residents and let them know that we care.  We will be assisting those in the neighborhood by cutting their grass, doing clean-up activities and we have a fun day planned at the park. 

Parking is available at 1121 Atlantic Road and/or 1430 Atline Road.

For additional information contact the Dream Center at 863-413-0088 or email