The Lakeland Police Department is seeing controversy after controversy.

An officer (Dustin Fetz) has a female lift up her shirt and shake out her bra looking for drugs (twice), and then searched her car after she clearly refused consent.  You make also notice that the only audio you hear is from the car radio, not what he is saying to her.  All of this in public view on the side of the road.

The news coverage calls the search uncalled for and illegal.  The State’s Attorney, Gary Hill, has called it “just wrong.”  The prosecutor said that the officer had no right to search the girl, her boyfriend, or the car and has sent a letter to the city demanding an investigation.  Hill said that based on statements, it appears that the police department has used this practice for some period of time.

According to a news report here another officer’s arrest report said the same thing for a second female, and the officer (Nick Edds) testified that he routinely had other officers sign blank, notarized DWI forms which he would fill out later.  He also testified that he would sometimes change reports after they had been notarized.  Judge J. Kevin Abdoney sent him from the courtroom and admonished the prosecutor, saying:

One thing is clear in this case, is that either this is an inexperienced officer that made some stupid mistakes, and he’s gonna be drug through the mud and his career potentially seriously impacted.  Or you have got a professional liar that the state is putting their stamp of approval on.

The next day, Edds suddenly remembered that he didn’t change any reports.  Abdoney stopped the questioning and asked Edds if he wanted an attorney.  Practically the only time judges do that is if they are considering referring the witness to the State’s Attorney for perjury charges.  Especially since the prosecutor was telling the judge that she thought that the officer should be advised of his rights, as in Miranda rights.

Captain John Thomason, when contacted by the station, seemed more concerned that these incidents would over-shadow the “good” that was being done by the department.  Really?  You have officers violating citizens’ rights, engaged in questionable behavior, possibly including perjury, and you’re worried it will over-shadow the “good”?

But wait, there’s more!

(To be continued)