City News Blog


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LAKELAND, FL (September 28, 2015) - An agreement has been entered into between the City of Lakeland, David Woolverton and the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association (PBA). 

Interim City Manager Tony Delgado said, “There were two main issues considered in the unique situation involving Officer Woolverton and his right to work as a sworn member of the Lakeland Police Department. One was the standing position of the State Attorney’s Office with regard to the “death letter” that outlines that the State Attorney’s office will not take testimony from Woolverton.  This is a very important consideration that has to be factored into any decision.” He added,  “The other was the direction given by the arbitrator to return Officer Woolverton to full capacity as a police officer. These two directives were in conflict with one another, so a settlement was negotiated that was a result of compromises on both sides of the table.”  The City of Lakeland and the PBA both made concessions to their original positions that allowed for an agreement to be reached. 

To avoid continuing litigation between the parties, the City of Lakeland will continue to employ Woolverton as a sworn Police Officer with the Lakeland Police Department.  The City will pay Woolverton back pay with interest for lost opportunities to work extra duty details in the amount of $9,688.76.  As a result of a 2013 decision by the State Attorney to not use Woolverton as a witness, Woolverton will remain in the position of Special Operations-Equipment Operator and will not seek transfer from this position for the remainder of his employment with the City of Lakeland.  

As long as the July 2013 letter from the State Attorney remains in effect, Woolverton will not apply for or participate in any overtime detail that would require him to use his official police authority. He will not participate in routine traffic enforcement activities that may require official police documents and Woolverton will not participate in any special assignments including but not limited to the SWAT team that may require him to use his official police authority. The agreement also provides Woolverton with a police uniform and outlines that that he will receive the same treatment as any other member of the Lakeland Police Department and afforded the same rights of a police officer. The signed agreement is attached.

Police Chief Larry Giddens said, “I have heard it said that a when a good compromise is reached both parties walk away from the table a little disappointed.  I believe that is the case here and we have reached a good compromise.  We will now be able to put this situation behind us and move forward.  Thank you to all for the hard work and dedication to this case on both sides of the table.”


LAKELAND, FL (May 4, 2015) - The Mayor’s Gang Task Force lead by Commissioner Philip Walker will provide a Community Forum on Monday, May 11th at the Coleman Busch Building starting at 6 p.m. The forum will include a presentation providing an update on the prevention, intervention and suppression tactics initiated by the Gang Task Force and partnering law enforcement agencies.

The community will hear an update on G.R.E.A.T. - the anti-gang program administered to Lakeland middle school students by School Resource Officers as well as effective neighborhood outreach events that targeted hot spot areas.  The Lakeland Police Department will share new statistics on their anti-gang suppression efforts.  The Community Forum will hear exciting news and plans for a stand-alone Police Athletic League facility that has been fast-tracked to open before the end of the school year.

Police Chief Larry Giddens, “Last year we had a noticeable uptick in gang related activity. I’m proud to say our multi-pronged approach that includes prevention, intervention and suppression elements have helped us reduce the number of gang related crimes over the past year.”  He added, “We are excited about the opportunities that our new partnership with the City’s Parks & Recreation Department is going to offer the community as we team together for a new Police Athletic League facility. We have big plans for the facility and it will help in the prevention and intervention of our young students.”

The highly successful Summer of Safety program developed between law enforcement agencies and the Citrus Connection will be extended for 2015.  This program will allow Lakeland middle school students to ride the bus for free during the summer.  The program is very similar to the COLTS program initiated by the Polk County School Board.  Tom Phillips, Executive Director for the Citrus Connection said, “Both programs will allow middle and high school students the opportunity to ride the Citrus Connection for free during the summer. Middle school students must sign up and this can be done at our activity centers around town and through the SRO’s at Lakeland middle schools.” He added, “We will also have sign-up opportunities available during the Community Forum.”

The Community Forum will take place on May 11th at 6 p.m. The Coleman Busch Building located at 1104 Martin Luther King Junior Avenue, Lakeland, FL 33805.  

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.  




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