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June 29, 2016                                                              Contact:  Sgt. Gary Gross                  

Immediate Release                                                    Phone #:  863-834-6949




 (Lakeland, FL):  A team of assessors from the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) will arrive July 13, 2016, to examine all aspects of Lakeland Police Department’s policies and procedures, management, operations, and support services, Chief Larry Giddens announced today.  The Lakeland Police Department has to comply with approximately 87 standards in order to receive accredited status.  Many of the standards are critical to life, health and safety issues.

As part of the on-site assessment, agency members and the general public are invited to offer comments to the assessment team.  A copy of the standards is available through the Lakeland Police Department Public Information Officer at 863-834-6949.

For more information regarding CFA or for persons wishing to offer written comments about the Lakeland Police Department’s ability to meet the standards of accreditation, please write:

CFA, P.O. Box 1489, Tallahassee, Florida, 32302, or email to

The Accreditation Program Manager for Lakeland Police Department is Caroline Renew.  She said the assessment team is composed of law enforcement practitioners from similar agencies.  The assessors will review written materials; interview individuals; and visit offices and other places where compliance can be witnessed.  The CFA Assessment Team Leader is Sgt. Nicole Minick of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.  Other team members are Lt. Rick Mohaupt of the Punta Gorda Police Department and Lt. Mike Sheelar of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office. 

Once the Commission’s assessors complete their review of the agency, they report back to the full Commission, which will then decide if the agency is to receive accredited status.  Lakeland Police Department’s accreditation is for 3 years.  Verification by the team that the Lakeland Police Department meets the Commission’s standards is part of a voluntary process to gain or maintain accreditation--a highly prized recognition of law enforcement professional excellence, Chief Larry Giddens said.



Date: June 21, 2016

Time: 11:00 a.m.

Location: Lakeland Police Department

219 N. Massachusetts Avenue. 3rd floor Conference Room



LAKELAND, FL (June 21, 2016) - During a three-day operation in mid-April, a multi-agency undercover sting was conducted focusing in on unlicensed contractors. Those agencies that played a vital role in the successful operation include the Lakeland Police Department, State Attorney’s Office 10th Judicial Circuit, The Florida Department of Financial Services Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Compliance, and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Eight individuals advertised their ability to perform wide-ranging plumbing and electrical work without proper licenses or training. All but one had no worker’s compensation coverage to protect their employees in the event of an accident or injury.

The undercover sting operation was conducted in an effort to stop these illegal practices. Detectives responded to public advertisements, created by the defendants, requesting that they perform services at a specified location in Lakeland. The workers were invited to the home by an undercover detective posing as a homeowner in need of home repairs. Once they provided the undercover detective with a proposal for work that would require a contractor's license in the state of Florida, they were in violation. A few highlights from the operation are:

·       Several of the defendants utilized web sites advertising their services and that they were insured.

·       One defendant admitted he was not allowed to do some of the work he agreed to complete.

·       Lettering on one of the subject’s van stated, “Licensed & Insured”.

·       One subject provided a fictitious business license number.

·       Business cards handed out stating, “Licensed & Insured”.

·       Some of the subjects had prior criminal charges for:

o   Aggravated Assault

o   Carrying Concealed Weapon

o   Lewd Lascivious Battery Child under 16 years of age

o   Sexual Battery

o   Felony Battery

"We must be vigilant and continue to crack down on those who are contracting work illegally and working without a license,” said Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens. “Unlicensed contractors place our citizens at risk and threaten the livelihood of our law-abiding contractors and their employees. “ 

 Detectives worked with the State Attorney’s Office and throughout the investigation and later had capias issued for the below listed individuals. The below six defendants were taken into custody between June 16th and 17th and they were all charged with, Engaging in a business as a contractor without a license (M1) and Fail to secure workers’ compensation insurance coverage (F3). 

1.     Justin Cortes, 48 yrs old - Polk City, FL.

2.     Greatlen Bozeman, 43 yrs old - Winter Haven, FL.

3.     Herbert Vanegas, 54 yrs old - Lakeland, FL.

4.     Henricus Van Der Linden, 56 yrs old - Winter Haven, FL.

5.     Stuart Rhodes, 67 yrs old - Lakeland, FL.

6.     Juan Carlos Diaz, 35 yrs old - Lakeland, FL.

7.     Raymond Figueroa-Garcia, 30 yrs old, Winter Haven, FL.

The below listed defendant, Raymond Perdue, had his worker’s compensation insurance, but did not have a contractor’s license. Charges were filed with the State Attorney’s Office for Engaging in a business as a contractor without a license (M1) and Perdue was issued a summons to appear in county court.

8.     Raymond Perdue, 45 yrs old, Lakeland, FL. 

The Media Relations Unit has provided video, pictures, affidavits and copies of documents on our web site at


Media inquiries should be directed to 863.583-2357.


Register Your Neighborhood for National Night Out 2016 

The Lakeland Police Department would like to invite you to participate in the 33rd Annual National Night Out on Tuesday, August 2, 2016. National Night Out is an event where neighborhoods, businesses, churches and law enforcement come together to show solidarity in the ongoing fight against crime and drugs. This event is designed to heighten crime prevention awareness, generate support and participation in local anti-crime programs as well as strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships. This is a great opportunity to send a message to criminals letting them know that local neighborhoods are organized and fighting back! This year’s theme is “See Something, Say Something!” Along with the traditional outside lights and front porch vigils, your neighborhood can celebrate National Night Out with a variety of activities such as block parties, cookouts, parades, festivals and visits from local officials and police officers. To ensure that members from the Lakeland Police Department stop by and celebrate with you, register your neighborhood or community group today! It’s free to participate and the benefits your community will receive from this event could extend well beyond this one night. 

Applications are available online at www. For full details, contact: Cindy Sharp at 863.834.6912 |


Alligator Incident Investigated

On June 7th at approximately 1:40 p.m., the Lakeland Police Department responded to a citizen 911 call of an alligator with a body in its mouth at 1 Lake Hunter Drive. Uniform patrol officers responded to the scene and observed what appeared to be a body in the alligator’s mouth just off of the shoreline at Lake Hunter Drive and Cresap Avenue. The alligator let go of the body and swam off, circling the area for approximately one hour. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officers responded to the scene and notified a contract trapper, who also responded. Detectives canvassed the area in an attempt to find anything of evidentiary value that may assist in identifying the body.

At this time, the preliminary investigation reveals that the body is a male subject, unknown age. In addition, it appears as if the body was in the water more than one day due to the decomposition of the body. The investigation into the death is ongoing and the body will be transported to the Medical Examiner’s Office.

On June 4th, the Lakeland Police Department received a call from a citizen at 8:53 a.m. in reference to finding a shirt in the water with pair of pants and backpack nearby at the Lake Hunter Boat Ramp, 650 Sikes Blvd. The citizen did not want any contact at the time and they also reported that there had been an aggressive alligator by the boat ramp during the week. The Lakeland Police responded to the area, arriving at 9:06 a.m. Six different Lakeland Police Officers checked the surrounding area and did not locate anyone in the water or observe any alligator nearby. The Lakeland Fire Department was called at 10:01 a.m. in reference to utilizing their boat to search the surrounding lake area. At 11:01 they cleared from the lake after not locating anything. 

On June 5th, at 5:16 p.m, the Lakeland Police Department received a call from a citizen stating that they observed something large floating in the Lake Hunter with an alligator circling it. The citizen in this case had also left the area. Responding officers checked the surrounding lake area and was unable to locate anything.

At this time, there are no additional leads and the identity of the deceased is still unknown.

Media inquiries should be directed to 863.583-2357.