LAKELAND, Fla. - Following weeks of scandal, the Polk County legislative delegation sent a letter to Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields on Tuesday with their position on how to best handle the recent crises involving the Lakeland Police Department.
The letter did not mince words, calling the behavior of LPD officials "shocking" and "revolting."
In a phone interview with ABC Action News, the delegation chair, Rep. Seth McKeel said, "The state attorney's report is extremely concerning."
McKeel said something must be done to right the wrongs of the Lakeland Police Department. The delegation believes Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd may be that solution.
The following is an excerpt from the letter sent to Mayor Fields:
"Polk County's chief law enforcement officer is one of the finest law enforcement officials in Florida. Our recommendation is to invite Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd to work with City officials to make the proper reforms to the Lakeland Police Department. We have discussed this concept with the Sheriff and he is willing to help, if asked.
Sheriff Judd will save the City of Lakeland from paying large fees to private consulting firms. The Sheriff knows our community and will be able to make recommendations that fit our city's needs from day one. Most importantly, Sheriff Judd has the respect and trust of our community and of the State of Florida. We believe that level of respect and trust is sorely needed at this time."
The Lakeland Police Department has been recently riddled with scandal. On the heels of a dash cam video showing an LPD officer directing a female to shake out her bra during a routine traffic stop, which made national headlines, the state attorney released a report that 10 officers were investigated for having forced and consensual sex with a 13-year civilian employee of the department during the last seven years.
In response to the delegation's letter on Tuesday, Sheriff Grady Judd sent the following statement to ABC Action News:
"I sincerely appreciate and thank the Polk County Legislative Delegation for their kind words and confidence in me and the Polk County Sheriff's Office-they truly want what is best for Lakeland. My whole family is from Lakeland. I grew up here. I care about Lakeland, its reputation, and the quality of life we enjoy here. We cannot lose sight that there are many fine and hardworking officers at LPD who are outstanding public servants.
If the city wants my help, or help from any of our staff, we are more than willing to do whatever we can. Mayor Gow Fields called me this afternoon after he received the delegation's letter and I confirmed with him that we are willing to provide any professional assistance requested."
ABC Action News also received a statement from Mayor Fields Tuesday evening. In it, the Mayor vows to "deliver deliberate action to those that have disgraced the LPD badge." He said the city will take that appropriate action "once all the facts are known."
The following is an excerpt from the Mayor's statement:
"We cherish our law enforcement partnerships, especially the bond that we have with the Polk County Sheriff’s Department. I know it is difficult, but we ask that our citizens be patient while the investigation continues. We promise to keep our citizens informed as the investigation unfolds and you have my word that those who are proven to have acted inappropriately will be disciplined to the fullest extent."
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