Acting Chief speaks on latest scandals surrounding Lakeland Poli - WFLA News Channel 8

Acting Chief speaks on latest scandals surrounding Lakeland Police Dept.

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LPD Acting Chief Larry Giddens LPD Acting Chief Larry Giddens
LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) - With just over a week on the job for Larry Giddens as acting chief for the Lakeland Police Department, three employees have been placed on paid administrative leave due to investigations, one of them criminal.

It’s a situation that leaves some wondering why Giddens would agree to lead a trouble-ridden department.   Giddens says the pride he has in the community and the department made the decision simple; plus, it was a sudden appointment by City Manager Doug Thomas after Lisa Womack was placed on administrative leave early this month. 

"I started [with Lakeland PD] at the ripe age of 21,” Giddens said of his beginning at LPD.

It was 1985 when he went full-time with Lakeland Police Department-the start of a career that would bring thrills, excitement, and challenges.  Looking back, the hurdles were just a hint of the trials he'd face decades later.

“It hasn't been easy,” he said.  “I can tell you that there are days that I've gotten up and I say to myself, ‘it's tough to put on the uniform.’  There's a lot of scrutiny.  You have some people out there who are doubting the Lakeland Police Department,” Giddens said.

As a native of Lakeland, and believer in the “protect and serve” philosophy of law enforcement, he carries a pride in this department that no setback can crush.

“I haven't spent the vast majority of my adult life here to let anybody down,” he said. 

Last year alone brought with it a highly-publicized sex scandal that ended the career of more than a dozen officers.  Another officer was charged with sexual battery after propositioning a woman while on duty.  Through it all, the State Attorney did not shy away from saying the department was a mess.

A recent decision to appoint Giddens interim chief gives him a chance to lead the force in a different direction.  But internal investigations continue--- at least one of those centered on him.

“Through through adversity you get stronger,” he said.  “And I can tell you that I'm getting stronger.  The investigations I can’t comment on them but when they're done, I will be glad to comment about them at that time.  At this time I feel that I have to sit back and let them take its course.  I feel that at the end of that time I will be vindicated.”

Giddens credits his colleagues and community for rallying around the idea that lessons came with the hardships of last year and  better days are ahead.

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