LAKELAND, Fla. - The Lakeland Police Department is turning red after 5 of its K-9 officers were caught speeding.
Five of the nine members were clocked in going 100+ MPH on a road trip back to Polk County from a canine competition in Santa Rosa County.
“This is an embarrassment,” Sergeant Gary Gross said to ABC Action News.
The incident happened back in March when the members who were off duty were on their way home via Interstate 10.
A state employee called the station to say they noticed two Lakeland Police Department SUVs traveling at least 80 miles per hour.
“A gentleman saw what he thought was speeding and he was correct,” Sgt. Gross said.
That wasn’t the only piece of evidence used against the officers during an internal investigation.
The officer’s own dash cam captured the speeding, as it’s protocol for the system to start recording once the vehicle hits speeds of 75+ MPH.
It was also found that two of the officers purposely filled up their SD cards in the cameras so that personal conversations would not be recorded during the trip.
“There was no conspiracy or other thought into that when they left Lakeland, they decided to fill the memory card for that sole reason,” Sgt. Gross added that the officers were not on duty, this was a personal but business related trip.
The five members were in street clothes and were not in policing authority at the time.
“The chief is not going to tolerate this action and there will be severe consequences,” Sgt. Gross said.
All of the members caught in violation of the agencies protocol will be suspended for two days.
The officers also will be stripped of any promotions or annual increases they would have received over the next year.
Chief Larry Giddens told ABC Action News these officers’ actions do not represent what the agency stands for.
“Although each officer involved has taken full responsibility for individual actions they cannot take back the embarrassment placed upon this agency and their fellow colleagues,” Chief Giddens said.
A ticket for speeding over 100 MPH would usually result in a ticket well over $300.
Since the actual offense was not witnessed by law enforcement the team won’t get a speeding ticket.
But their financial punishment of not receiving their annual raises results in $2,000-$3,000 in losses for each member.
Additionally, each K9 handler will have to undergo training for in car safety and the dangers of speeding.