Lakeland Police officers react to scandals - WFLA News Channel 8

Lakeland Police officers react to scandals

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4 Lakeland Police officers, with no connection to the recent scandals, discuss what's going on at the department 4 Lakeland Police officers, with no connection to the recent scandals, discuss what's going on at the department
Officers worry that the actions of a few are tarnishing the department Officers worry that the actions of a few are tarnishing the department
LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

For the first time, officers within the Lakeland Police Department who have nothing to do with a string of recent scandals and investigations are speaking out about the agency's turmoil.

In an exclusive interview, four veteran officers sat down to explain what morale is like at LPD, what officers think about a newly revealed sex scandal, and how challenging it is to face the community under such scrutiny. 

(6/27 Related Story: Lakeland Police officer has lengthy disciplinary file)

Officer Alex Aviles is a 19-year veteran of LPD.  

"We realize that right now it's not the best of times for the police department, but every morning you put on that uniform you have to represent and go out there and do your job and do it right," Aviles said.

(6/20 Related Story: Officials question Lakeland bra-shaking police search)

Detective Richard Rose, who has 16 years on the force, says morale is certainly not high at the department, and the questionable actions of a few officers have cast a shadow on everyone.

"I've been disheartened. I've been discouraged at how a few, how a few officers have really hurt my family," Rose said.

(6/26 Related Story: Lakeland Police Department sex investigation)

Sergeant Gary Gross has worked for LPD for 25 years and was just appointed as acting public information officer. He says the hardest part is the scrutiny from the community. 

"It's important for me to give the community 100%, the citizens that we have to protect, and I don't want them to think that I'm part of this investigation. I don't want them to think that the badge that he wears, that each one of these officers, that it's tarnished, and it's not on them," Gross said.

(6/20 Related Story: FL investigates Lakeland Police DUI procedures)

Despite all the external and internal pressures though, officers like Emma Molina, a motorcycle cop with seven years at LPD, say it still means something to wear a uniform for the city of Lakeland.

"I wanted to serve the citizens of Lakeland, and nobody's judgement, statement will ever change my opinion," Molina said. "I'm honored to be a Lakeland Police Officer."

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