FL investigates Lakeland police DUI procedures - WFLA News Channel 8

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FL investigates Lakeland police DUI procedures

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LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

The Lakeland Police Department is under fire after two officers admit to asking women to shake out their bras to make sure no drugs were hidden inside. Meanwhile, the department's DUI procedures are under investigation by the Polk County State Attorney's Office.

That investigation follows an exclusive 8 On Your Side investigation that aired Wednesday night. News Channel 8 reviewed a court transcript in which an officer admitted to routinely having fellow officers notarize blank forms.

"We expect law enforcement to provide testimony that is honest and straightforward," said Brian Haas, spokesman for the Polk County State Attorney's Office.

The Lakeland Police Department held a news conference Thursday and announced an internal investigation into a complaint that an officer made a woman shake out her bra. Dashcam video documents the incident.

However, 8 On Your Side found a DUI report Thursday that shows another officer admitting to doing the same thing. That officer, Nick Edds, is the same one who testified to using notarized blank forms.

Edds testified in court Tuesday. He said other officers notarize blank arrest documents, and he fills them in later. Edds also admitted to making changes to a report after it had been notarized.

Edds was testifying in a DUI case, and the defense attorney, Tom Grajeck, was the same attorney who interviewed him in another DUI case two weeks ago. Grajeck read from that transcript. In it, Edds says he and fellow officers notarize blank arrest documents on every case.

"One thing is clear in this case, is that either this is an inexperienced officer that made some stupid mistakes, and he's gonna be drug through the mud and his career potentially seriously impacted," said Polk County Judge J. Kevin Abdoney. "Or you have got a professional liar that the state is putting their stamp of approval on."

But Tuesday, Edds changed his story, specifically remembering he didn't change documents on this particular case. The questioning was so heated that at one point Abdoney stopped the hearing.

The judge asked Edds if he wanted to call a lawyer, and he did.

Edds never backed down, though, saying he didn't do anything wrong.

Assistant Police Chief Larry Giddens tells 8 On Your Side that the department has opened an internal investigation into Edds' procedures, and are trying to find out how many other officers are involved. He said the department takes this very seriously and will audit all of Edds' pending cases.

The jury on Tuesday stayed until around 10:30 p.m. and found the defendant not guilty. This investigation could call into question hundreds of DUIs handled by the Lakeland Police Department.

Lakeland Police Department officials say they take these allegations seriously.

"Given recent media stories about the Lakeland Police Department, I want to assure the citizens of the City of Lakeland that we take every allegation seriously and we are committed to your safety and the quality of life in Lakeland," Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack said.

"This department does not condone the alleged actions as have been reported in recent days and any officer proven to be involved in this type behavior will be dealt with accordingly, including possible termination," Chief Womack added.

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