Lakeland shuts down known drug house under public nuisance law; dedicating more resources to effort

The home will remain closed for one year

LAKELAND, Fla. - The City of Lakeland shut down a known drug house Friday as part of a renewed effort to target homes that are tarnishing the community.

Lakeland Police received more than 40 complaints about illegal activity at 309 Quincy.

"This used to be a really clean neighborhood and I just didn't like the situation that was going on. I talked to the landlord about it and it seemed like nothing was getting done," said Jess Hamilton who has lived next door for decades.

Police received so many complaints, officers went undercover and even purchased crack cocaine on multiple occasions.

They asked the landlord to evict the renters but it didn't work, so attorneys got involved and used the public nuisance law to shut the home down for one year.

"If you have a problem, you need to deal with it and get them out. If they don't we will deal with it and this is how we deal with it by closing the house down," said Sgt. Gary Gross with the Lakeland Police Department.

Neighbor see it as a breath of fresh air -- relief that the constant trouble at the home is behind them.

"I'm glad it's over with," Hamilton said. "Maybe that will do something with the landlords, maybe that will perk them up, and they'll realize that it's not just about getting money, but they have to have the right people in those homes."

In the last eight years, Lakeland Police have only declared about three homes a public nuisance -- shutting them down for a year.

Now the department is dedicating more resources to the problem to help get drugs of the streets. Another two homes within he city are in the process of going through all the red tape.

LPD Attorney Roger Mallory said it does not have to reach the point of actually shutting down a home as long as home owners do the job themselves.

"If I'm convinced that you've done something effective, we will not take further action. We will not take your case before the board, and we won't ask for the property to be closed," Mallory said.

But if landlords turn a blind eye, their property could become the next 309 Quincy.

"We're trying to work with the landlords so they know when they rent a house, they have to be careful who they get in there, and if we tell them that there's illegal activity going on, they need to do something about it," he said.


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