Lakeland Police, Part V: Who’s on First? (with apologies to Abbott & Costello)

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OK, the mayor set up a blue-ribbon panel to figure out what to do about the police department and the mess it has created.  It had fifteen members (or did, until the two co-chairs resigned).  Now, just before the first meeting, three more members have also resigned.  The committee hasn’t even had a meeting yet, and 33% of its members have quit?

But not to worry – the mayor says it will all be fine.

Now the State Attorney has dropped 38 DUI cases because the officers involved put false information in the reports.

There are numerous officers who the State Attorney will no longer put on the stand because of issues with their truthfulness.

And Poytner.org says the whole thing is like a script from Reno911.

 

 

 

 

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Lakeland PD Part IV: And the Hits Keep Coming (UPDATED)

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The Lakeland, Florida Police Department has had a rough time recently, with an officer humiliating a young woman on the side of the road and another officer being stopped from testifying by the judge to obtain legal counsel on possible perjury (here); an officer beating another driver in road rage, a traffic ticket controversy, and eleven lawsuits against the department in the last few years (here); and a sex scandal that involves a dozen officers (here).

And the hits keep coming in…

Two sergeants fired, one resigned in questions about the sex scandal and testifying truthfully.

A lieutenant resigned in lieu of termination in the sex scandal.  This lieutenant had been the subject of multiple Internal Affairs investigations (1,800 pages), had been recommended for before, yet was still a lieutenant.  Another officer who had sex with the civilian employee in a closet also resigned.  Captain John Thomason retired rather than face an investigation into the matter.  A total of nine officers are no longer with the department due to the scandals.

Now, the State’s Attorney is considering tossing up to 40 DUI cases due to “integrity” issues within the Lakeland Police Department.  This involves Officer Eads, who was covered in a earlier post, Sergeant Ray Lloyd, and three other officers.  It seems that the State’s Attorney feels that Lloyd was less than truthful in an investigation into Lakeland IAD Lieutenant Hans Lehman.

Chief Womack has full faith that the Internal Affairs process is working – until it came to light that Lt. Lehman tipped off an officer facing an IA investigation.  The officer tipped off?  Sgt. Lloyd.  Now an Assistant Chief will oversee Internal Affairs.  But the process is working…

Is that why the Mayor is setting up a blue ribbon panel to assess the police department?

Is that why the state legislators want the Polk County Sheriff to come in and fix the department?

And the department is facing re-accreditation by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, Inc.  But not to worry, according to Lt. Lehman, the assessors “understand that we’ve worked hard the last two and a half, three years to get back to where we were…”  Uh, is that the same Lehman that allegedly tipped off Lloyd?

I’ve got a better solution.  Close down the department and bring in the Sheriff’s Office to handle law enforcement.  Take time to find a new chief and hire a completely new staff.  The culture cannot be changed when it is that prevalent throughout the department and into the command staff level.

UPDATE:

The two co-chairs of the advisory committee set up by the mayor have resigned, prior to the committee’s first meeting.  One of the two indicated that she was concerned about the communications and accountability breakdowns created by the organizational culture.  She also indicated that she was troubled by the fact that there had been no commitment to hold these meetings publicly.

Lakeland PD Part III – But Wait, There’s More!

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This one involves sexual misconduct allegations involving up to ten officers, including non-consensual sex at the police department.  And if you remember Captain John Thomason, who was concerned that the bra-search scandal would over-shadow the “good” things the department was doing?  Well, the good things apparently include him forwarding a photo of his ***** to a female.  I won’t get into the allegation about the sex outside of the church where a slain Lakeland officer was being laid to rest.

I especially like two parts.  One by the State Attorney, at about 1:20, where he compares the Lakeland PD to an under-performing school.  The second is a statement by Chief Womack, at about 1:55, where she says that the Lakeland PD has a culture of professionalism.  No, I’m serious, she really said that.  I need to find out what she has been drinking.

 

Lakeland PD, Part Two

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Last month, an off-duty Lakeland police officer, Jerry Monroe, was cut-off and flipped off while driving.  So, like any normal citizen, he goes on his way, mad.  Oh wait.  There’s film?  OK, so he didn’t go on his way, he followed the driver and beat him until he was sent to the hospital.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Officer later arrested Monroe and he was fired by Lakeland.

In March, the department had to change almost 200 traffic citations into warnings because it wasn’t clear that the road was closed.  If you look at the video, it is apparent how confusing it is, and a supervisor should have picked up on this and stopped it.

Lawsuits:

Florence, today and at time of alleged beating.

Florence, today and at time of alleged beating.

  • Florence v. City of Lakeland, pending, plaintiff alleges that officers beat him in the face with a metal object and notes that all charges against Florence were dropped by the State’s Attorney.
  • Youssef v. City of Lakeland, pending, plaintiff was being handcuffed when officer negligently released K9, which bit her.  All charges were dropped against Youssef as she was not doing anything illegal at the time of contact.
  • Fountain v. City of Lakeland, No. 8:11–CV–52–T–17TBM, 2011 WL 3703454 (M.D. Fla. 2011) (officers’ who repeatedly tasered subject denied qualified immunity, city denied immunity).
  • Wynn v. City of Lakeland, 727 F. Supp. 2d 1309 (M.D. Fla. 2010) (officer who struck subject in face with flashlight, breaking three bones, denied qualified immunity).
  • Diaz v. City of Lakeland, No. 8:08-cv-1203-T-33TBM, 2010 WL 148728 (M.D. Fla. 2010) (pro se plaintiff’s allegations of excessive force dismissed for failure to state a claim).
  • Jackson v. City of Lakeland, No. 2005 CA 3847, 2009 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 411284 (Fla. Cir. Ct., Jury Verdict) (jury awarded $550,000 to plaintiff who was shot by officer over a traffic violation).
  • Carson v. City of Lakeland, No. 8:08–cv–2461–T–24 TGW, 2009 WL 88487 (M.D. Fla. 2009) (officer’s who kicked in door without a warrant & released a K9 which bit the subject were denied a motion to dismiss).
  • Freeman v. Mack, No. 8:08–cv–1612–T–23EAJ, 2008 WL 4790532 (M.D. Fla. 2008) (officer who released K9 on subject granted motion to dismiss, remanded to state court for action on state claims).
  • Cornett v. City of Lakeland, No. 8:06-cv-02386-T-17TBM, 2008 WL 2740328 (M.D. Fla. 2008) (officer who released K9 on surrendering subject granted qualified immunity).
  • Holm v. City of Lakeland, as next friend of Gadd, who was killed when a car being chased by police struck his vehicle.
  • Johnson v. Young, No. 8:06-CV-244-26TGW, 2006 WL 680655 (M.D. Fla. 2006) (officer accused of illegal search and false arrest granted qualified immunity, remanded to state court for action on state claims).

 

 

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