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History of Lakeland Police Department




George F. Newell was elected as the 1st City Marshal in Lakeland, he was the only law enforcement officer and the Tax Collector at the time.

1st jail “McDermott House” was located approximately 1 block north of Main Street, in the area of Florida Avenue. It served the needs until it was burned down in 1890.


Quarterly Crime Report – 36 Arrests:

Fighting – 13

Gambling – 6

Boisterous Cursing & Swearing – 6

Drunks – 4

Lewd Conduct – 1

Petty Larceny – 2

Discharging a Firearm – 2

Sanitary Violation – 1

Peddling without a License – 1

H. D. Bullard was named the 3rd Town Marshal and Tax Collector


U. H. Hane was the 1st Deputy hired

Department strength = 2

J. C. Wilbur, Town Marshal and U. H. Hane, night police officer


John Logan named Town Marshal, he served until 1908


1st official Police Department was created in Lakeland – R. L. Marshall was the 1st Police Chief to serve in Lakeland

The police department was located at the back of City Hall at Florida Avenue and Main Street


In the early 1920’s the department purchased 2 Model T Ford Touring sedans, for the 1st police vehicles.


Chief “Uncle” Dan Wilson


The Police/Fire station moved to Massachusetts Avenue and cost $40,000.


March 27, Easter Sunday - Officers Thomas A. Nicholson & William T. Barnett were killed in the line of duty.


Roy V. Hutchingson was named the new Police Chief.

June 18 – LPD received approval from the FCC to construct the 1st radio transmitter station.


The police vehicles were equipped with one-way radios

Department strength = 14 (down from previous years)


One way radios were installed in three police vehicles


Two-way radio communications were established between police officers and dispatchers


Department strength = 24, the officers were paid $80.00 per month and worked 7 days a week, 10 hours a day


The 1st police auxiliary was formed with 120 members.


Chief Hutchingson retired after 31 years of service to the City of Lakeland.

December 11, DeWitt Sinclair was named the new police chief.


The city manager demanded Chief Sinclair’s resignation after he only served 1 year and 34 days.

June 1 – Leo Brooker was appointed as the new Police Chief.


1st bicycle patrol began in downtown Lakeland

Samuel King and Samuel Williams were hired in January, becoming the first African American officers hired by Lakeland Police Department.

March – Edgar Pickett, Jr. was hired, becoming the 3rd African American officer at Lakeland Police. He would go on to serve 29 years with the department.

LPD substituted downtown night patrol bicycle officers with foot patrol officers.


LPD uniforms were changed from blue to green and the black patrol vehicles got a green and white color scheme.


Ruth Lauderdale became the 1st woman Corporal


Groundbreaking for new police station at Lake Wire.


Leila Plaire was hired as the first female officer for Lakeland Police Department. She had served with the department since 1956 as a meter maid.

The new police building on Lake Wire was completed, the cost was $570,000.


Lawrence Crow became the 1st graduate of the police cadet program.


Edgar Pickett, Jr. organized the first crime scene unit.


Chief Brooker retired after 37 years of service to the City of Lakeland.

Herbert W. Straley, Jr. was named the new Police Chief.

Explorer Post #602 was started


The new Communications Center became operational, it cost $54,000.

A vote by officers to unionize was rejected by a vote of 41 to 29.


Department strength = 108 sworn, 44 civilian

The SWAT team was formed.

The Special Investigations Unit was formed.


Department fleet = 50 vehicles

Calls for service = 35,693


In the early 80’s, Special Purpose Vehicles came into use in the downtown area of Lakeland.

May 1 – Ron Bowling, Sr. and K9 Sarge became the 1st K9 team in the county. This team went on to win numerous awards and was the inspiration for many more K9 teams in the area.

The auxiliary program was re-established.

The 1st policy manual was implemented.

Chief Straley, Jr. resigned as Police Chief.

February 5 – Lawrence Crow was appointed as Police Chief, he was 37 years old and the second youngest to hold the position.

In July, Officer Carl H. “Scooter” Cushman was shot in the line of duty and sustained serious injury. The injury occurred during the robbery and subsequent pursuit of the suspect vehicle. Officer Cushman died in April 1988 as a result of the injuries sustained in this incident.

LPD handled the motorcade and crowd control during a campaign stop by President Jimmy Carter. The crowd was estimated to be approximately 10,000 people.


LPD was judged as one of the best dressed police agencies in the nation.

December – a Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system was implemented.


Department strength = 113 sworn, 44 civilian


Edgar Pickett, Jr. retired after 29 years of service to the City of Lakeland.


The department changed uniforms from green to blue.


Chief Crow stepped down as Police Chief.

Ron Nenner was appointed as Police Chief.


In the 90’s the Chaplaincy Program was initiated.

April – Sam Baca was hired as the new Police Chief.


The accreditation process was started to become a nationally accredited police agency.


Explorer Post #602 won an award at competition


Groundbreaking for the new police building at 219 N, Massachusetts Avenue.


November - The police department moved into the new state of the art building.

December 3 – the ribbon cutting ceremony was held and the police building was officially open for business.


March - The Department was awarded their 1st accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).


Chief Baca retired after 10 years of service.


December - Chief Boatner retired after 34 years of service to the City of Lakeland.


March - Lisa Womack was hired as the 1st female police chief of the Lakeland Police Department.


December 18 – Officer Arnulfo Crispin was shot in the line of duty. EOW – December 21, 2011. Officer Crispin was the 3rd officer killed in the line of duty, he was 25 years old and had been with the department for 18 months.


February 2012, Lakeland Police K9 teams took first and second place in 4-man department teams at the Region 1 field trials, as well as, Officer Ted Sealey and K9 Bruno being named “Top Dog” at the trials.

May 2012, the K-9 Unit participated in the USPCA National Detector Dog Trials. The K-9 Unit made history again, this time at the national level by securing the top three places in the department teams for Narcotics Detection.

October 2012, the K9 Unit participated in the USPCA National Patrol Dog Trials in Punta Gorda, FL. The unit won first and second place in four-man teams and Officer Ted Sealey and his K9 partner Bruno won “Top Dog”. This being no small feat, the Lakeland Police Department had five of the top ten dogs in the nation in the K9 Unit.


January – Operation “Smoke N Guns” Roundup – culmination of a 6 month joint operation with the U.S. Attorney’s office and ATF-Tampa. Results: 47 subjects faced multiple Federal Indictments and State Charges, various drugs taken off the street, along with 111 guns

February – Dedication of the Sergeant Ron Bowling, Sr. K9 Training Facility

March - SWAT Team participated in the 9th Annual Spring Shootout Sniper Competition. 1st Place and State of Florida Top Sniper Team – Team #1 - Sergeant Brent Addison & OfficerBobBernhardt

April - Grand Opening of new building at the LPD Training Center

May - For the second year in a row, Lakeland Police K9 teams took first and second place in 4-man department teams at the Region 1 field trials, as well as, Officer Ted Sealey and K9 Bruno being named “Top Dog” at the trials. Officer Chad Whitaker and K9 Bane won for Top Novice Team.

May - DUI Enforcement vehicle unveiled – A Ford Explorer-Police Interceptor is equipped with a brand new Intoxilyzer 8000 inside the vehicle, this Ford Explorer is the first of its kind to be equipped for these purposes in this region, and possibly the state.

August - Regained CALEA Accreditation

September - Regained CFA Accreditation