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On Friday, January 24, 2014 ten officers will be sworn in as members of the Lakeland Police Department. This completes their seven-weeks in the Mini Academy, and now they are ready to begin the next phase of their training as Lakeland Police officers. The officers will begin the 16 week Field Training phase and will be learning more about the department and community they will serve.  

The swearing in ceremony will be held at the First United Methodist Church, 72 Lake Morton Drive in Lakeland at 3:00 p.m.

The following officers will be sworn in:
   Seth Balser
   Kristopher Conner
   Bradley Dollison
   Mike Fuller
   Valerie Grey
   Misty Nappier
   Ronald “Ronnie” Powell
   Laura Robertson
   Jonathan Stephens
   Keri Suggs

On January 19, 2014, at approximately 1:51 a.m., the Lakeland Police Department responded to the Elks Lodge, 1026 N. Texas Avenue in reference to a shooting. Victim #1, Willie Williams,33, and his cousin got into a physical altercation inside the lodge after the cousin accidentally stepped on the suspects foot. The altercation moved outside the lodge at which point the suspect walked off briefly and returned within minutes shooting Williams a total of 5 times. Williams is listed in critical condition at LRMC.

Victim #2, Gregory Burgess, 23, was an innocent bystander outside the lodge and was shot once in the lower leg, possible by a bullet that exited Williams. Burgess drove himself to the Lakeland Regional Medical Center.

Victim #3, Darielle Kirkland, 23, was hit once in the face with the handgun knocking him to the ground. The handgun fired another round when Kirkland was struck. An unknown patron at this point kicked Kirkland in the head and knocked him unconscious.

The suspect has been identified as:

Sylvester Nathaniel Smith, Jr.
DOB 6/6/82
350 24th Street NW
Winter Haven, Fla 33880
•Known to frequent the North Iowa area in Lakeland

An arrest affidavit has been obtained for Smith charging him with Aggravated Battery with a Firearm (3 cts) and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.

Smith should be considered armed and dangerous and anyone with information on his whereabouts should call 911 or they can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-8477.




Byers Levy, 59, a bicyclist riding around Lake Hollingsworth was struck and killed by Ronald L. Akins, 75 on September 8, 2013. The Follow-up investigation was conducted by LPD Traffic Homicide Investigator Michael Catalano. A Florida Department of Law Enforcement analysis of the blood sample taken from Akins tested positive for ethanol, specifically, Ethyl alcohol levels of 0.099 and 0.101 g/100 mL of blood. For drivers over 21 the legal limit in Florida is .08.

Based on this information, Ronald Akins was arrested on 1/21/14 and charged with Driving Under the Influence resulting in a death, a second degree felony.



Police are asking for assistance in identifying two subjects in reference to a residential burglary in the 700 block of Rebecca Street. On Saturday, January 11, 2014, at approximately 6:57 a.m., the victim awoke to a loud sound and found glass all over her room. No entry was made into the apartment.

Subject #1 is possibly a black male with a goatee and facial hair.
Subject #2 appears to have a stocking cap on his hair and he has facial hair.

A large white van pulled into the complex and stayed about five minutes and then a large SUV is seen pulling out.

Anyone with information on the identification of these individuals is asked to contact the Lakeland Police Department at 863-834-6900, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-8477. To be eligible for a cash reward, you must contact Crime Stoppers.

LPD Event #14-742           Detective Bailey