LPD Reports Overall Crime Down as Homicides, Robberies, Assaults Rise

Larcenies in Lakeland dropped by 500 between 2017 and 2018, by far the biggest dip in a new report showing crime down by 550 incidents here last year. However, homicides are up from 1 to 8, robberies are up from 89 to 106, and assaults are up from 144 to 200, according to stats released today.

Overall reported crime is down from 4,328 incidents in 2017 to 3,778 in 2018, the Lakeland Police Department reports.

Police credit the overall drop to the community-oriented policing policies activated in 2014.  “These results show what happens when a community and a police department work together. We can’t do it alone,” new Chief Ruben Garcia said.

Here is a news release issued today by the Lakeland Police Department:

LAKELAND — According to Uniform Crime Data Reports (UCR) there were 550 less crimes reported in 2018 than 2017 under the jurisdiction of the Lakeland Police Department. UCR data is reported both semi-annually and annually by law enforcement agencies across Florida to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). There were 3,778 crimes reported in 2018, as compared to 4,328 in 2017, a total reduction in reported crimes of 12.7%

Chief Ruben Garcia said, “These results show what happens when a community and a police department work together. We can’t do it alone. Our dedicated team works every day to not only bring justice for victims but implement proactive programs to hopefully prevent crimes with support from our engaged citizens.”

The UCR data measures seven categories of part one crimes: Homicide, Sexual Crimes, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Larceny and Motor Vehicle Theft.

The downward trend for lower crime rates in the City of Lakeland has remained consistent for the past four years. There were 5,285 crimes reported in 2014, as compared to 3,778 in 2018, a total reduction in reported crimes of 28.5%.

Firmly operating on the foundation of Community-Oriented Policing, LPD has implemented and expanded many of the agencies outreach and enforcement initiatives since 2014. Those efforts in concert with the traditional policing activities of our Uniform and Investigative divisions continue to bring a positive impact to our neighborhoods.

In 2014 in the Gang Task Force was established with City departments, Polk County School Board, local faith-based organizations and community groups. The group meets quarterly to discuss and develop plans for continuous youth involvement. In 2014 there were 18 gang-related shootings in Lakeland. In 2017 that number dropped to zero and only one gang-related shooting was reported in 2018.

In 2015 the Neighborhood Liaison Section was reestablished; Comprised of two teams of 5 officers and a Sergeant. These teams work proactively within neighborhoods instead of responding to the daily calls-for-service received through dispatch. The officers also attend all neighborhood meetings and events within their zones. This allows citizens to develop relationships with the Neighborhood Liaison Officers (NLO) assigned to their area. Also assigned to the Section is a Homeless Liaison Officer. During 2018 NLOs made over 1,000 arrests and attended 197 community events and meetings. Since 2016 the team has collaborated with the Nuisance Abatement Board to close 12 properties known for illegal activities.

The agency’s School Resource Unit has expanded from 8 officers in 2014 to 16 in 2018. Two of the added positions are College Resource Officers, funded by and located at Florida Southern College. The unit is expected to add five additional officers in 2019, with four of those dedicated to primary schools in Lakeland and one dedicated to Florida Southern College. Along with focusing on student safety, School Resource Officers proactively mentor and build relationships with students to build positive relationships with law enforcement at an early age.

The Crime Prevention team has continued with consistent community engagement initiatives and programs. In 2018 alone the five-member unit participated in over 1,200 community meetings, 334 crime prevention programs and 244 neighborhood watch programs. The team also initiated over 70 Park, Walk & Talk Operations in local neighborhoods. The operations involved crime prevention practitioners walking neighborhoods, talking to residents and reminding them of important crime prevention measures such as locking vehicles and properly securing residences.