Lakeland police DUI cases called into question - WFLA News Channel 8

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Lakeland police DUI cases called into question

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LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

Tom McDonald, a prominent DUI defense attorney, says his confidence in the Lakeland Police Department is shaken.

"Going back into computers and changing stuff, it's terrible what they've been doing," McDonald said.

7/16/2013 Related Story: Lakeland police scandals put DUI cases in jeopardy

8 On Your Side broke the story last month when DUI officer Nick Edds testified to having fellow officers notarize blank arrest forms. This week, state attorney Jerry Hill says he will no longer prosecute any case that requires Edds' testimony.

The investigation into this incident revealed another big bombshell. Hill says the head of LPD's internal affairs department, Lt. Hans Lehman, tipped off an officer under investigation and advised him of how to cover his tracks.

That officer, Sgt. Ray Lloyd, went back into the computer, accessed a closed report from October 2012, and finalized it on July 2nd of this year.

Even so, Chief Lisa Womack says her confidence in her investigators is intact.

"I have all the faith in the world," Womack said. "I am confident in the integrity of our internal affairs division," she said.

7/15/2013 Related Story: Two Lakeland police sergeants fired over sex scandal

Meanwhile, the state attorney's office says it is combing through DUI cases handled by Edds and four other officers, and at least 40 cases will likely be dismissed.

Womack says she's addressing these concerns and already called for an audit of every DUI within the past year.

Serious questions still remain, though. How many other police officers handle cases the way Edds did? And, can the public trust the police department to investigate its own? Lakeland City Commissioner Howard Wiggs says LPD's problems have gone too far.

"It's at the point now, to develop any credibility in this community, this needs to come back to the city commission. We need to craft a plan that will resolve this," Wiggs said.

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