A Q+A with the Lakeland Police Department

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A Q+A with the Lakeland Police Department | Photo by @thelaltoday

How many sworn positions make up the Lakeland Police Department? What’s the training process for new officers? How can citizens access public police records? What diversity or de-escalation trainings are planned?

We collaborated with the Lakeland Police Department to find you these answers + more. Check out our Q+A below. ⬇️

Q: What is the police department’s annual budget?
A: Attached is an overview of our budget breakdown for Fiscal Year 2019 / $43,520,229 for FY19

Q: What percentage of the city’s budget goes to the police department?
A: Approximately 24% of General Revenue Expenditures

Q: What qualifications have to be met for someone to be hired?
A: Visit our page at www.joinlakelandpd.com There is a frequently asked questions toward the bottom that includes all of this information.

Q: Can you detail the training process for new officers/deputies?
A: Prior to joining an agency, new candidates must attend a five-month Police Academy, certified by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. At the conclusion, they must pass a state exam to be qualified. Once hired they then go through a seven-week Lakeland Police Department Mini Academy. Upon completion they are sworn in and assigned to our Uniform Patrol Division and paired up with a Field Training Officer who rides in the car with them, providing hands-on supervision and training for a minimum of four months. In total, a person new to law enforcement as a career choice will receive close to one year of training prior to responding to calls by themselves.

Q: Can you detail any ongoing training requirements for officers/deputies?
A: Training is an ongoing and continuous process throughout an officer’s entire career. However, there are certain training requirements that must be completed each year, including, firearms qualifications (twice a year). That covers handgun, rifle and shotgun usage, use of Force/de-escalation techniques, defensive tactics, pursuit driving, and various other high-liability areas.

Q: What is the process for a citizen to access public police records?
A: A request for records can be made in a variety of ways; in person, website, by email, postal mail, or phone. We also have a Records Division with a walk-up counter in our lobby. Although the Records Office is manned Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., our lobby is open 24/7 to the public. At the bottom of every webpage on an City of Lakeland website, including ours, is a REQUEST RECORDS button that allows anyone to make a request via the website.

A: Can you explain the policies and procedures related to how officers document their work
Q: Officers document their actions in official police reports. Anytime an officer is dispatched to a call, this is also recorded through our 911 CAD system, a log generated identifying the officers at the scene and the notes entered by the 911 dispatcher. Also, the vast majority of our marked patrol vehicles have dash cams, for video recording in their vehicles.

Q: Is there a method for the public to report problems or concerns regarding their local police?
A: Yes. Much like our methods for public records request there are a variety of ways a citizen can report concerns. A citizen can call our agency at 863.834.6900 at any time and ask to speak to a supervisor or a member of our Office of Professional Standards (OPS) team. Forms are available in the station lobby, which is open 24/7. A citizen can choose to complete the form and turn it in while there, or take it with them and send back at a time convenient for them. Also, a citizen can visit our website and download the complaint form or email a member of the OPS directly. The unit is made up of one lieutenant, one sergeant, three detectives, and one administrative assistant.

Q: Is there a method for the public to share positive feedback or commentary regarding their local police?
A: Yes. We love hearing about the great service provided by one of our team members. Citizens can call 863.834.6900, email mediarelations@lakelandgov.net, send us a message via our LakelandPD Social Media accounts, or stop by the station. Often people will post stories on their social media pages and tag us or send us a message.

Q: Does your department have a Citizen Review Task Force or a similar type of organization that reviews police interactions in the community?
A: In March of this year we began accepting applications for the agency’s first Police Citizen Advisory Board. The City of Lakeland and the Lakeland Police Department have selected nine community members to serve on the newly formed advisory board. Each member of the Lakeland City Commission, City Manager Tony Delgado, and Police Chief Ruben Garcia selected a representative to serve from the applications submitted earlier this year. The new board members will be discussing new agency programs, past police/citizen interactions, and providing insight on community needs to The Lakeland Police Department and City administrators. The first board meeting is expected to be held sometime during the month of July. During the initial meeting, Board Members will collectively decide on the board’s goals and objectives, along with the structure for future meetings and expectations of Board Members. Press Release here.

Q: What are your department’s policies related to use of force? (see here: use of force police)

Q: What restraint tactics are approved for use in your department? (see here: use of force police)

Q: Are there any policy changes in the works?
A: Our policies are continuously reviewed and updated as needed. Our agency is also accredited nationally through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®) and at the state level through the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation. In May of this year, we completed our review with CALEA where our agency had to comply with 462 standards, and our 911 Emergency Communications Center must comply with 199 standards.

Q: Are there any upcoming meetings or conversations the community can participate in?
A: We highly encourage citizens to seek out and join their local Neighborhood Watch. An officer and member of our Crime Prevention attend each of these meetings. There is a Race Relations Community Forum coming up on June 29th from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. at the RP Funding Center.

Q: Does your department have any additional thoughts or information it would like to share with the community at this time?
A: The men and women of the Lakeland Police Department take great pride in the professional service they provide every day. We know how special our City is and we [are] grateful for the support and partnerships we have with the citizens and business owners here. You will often hear Chief Garcia say “This is YOUR police department.” and he means it. The Chief and staff are always here to meet with anyone who has concerns or would like to talk about new ideas and initiatives.