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(150) stories found containing 'lake wales police department'


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  • Multi-Agency Human Trafficking Bust Nets 228 Suspects

    Carrie Horstman, Polk County Sheriffs Office|Updated Apr 6, 2024

    During an eight-day-long undercover human trafficking operation, which began on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, the Polk County Sheriff's Office Vice Unit arrested 228 suspects involved in illegal acts related to soliciting prostitutes, offering to commit prostitution, or aiding and abetting prostitutes. Detectives from the Auburndale PD, Davenport PD, Haines City PD, Lakeland PD, Lake Hamilton PD, Lake Wales PD, St. Cloud PD, and Winter Haven Fire Rescue assisted with the...

  • Allegations Lead to Firing of Lake Wales Police Chief

    News Staff Reports|Updated Mar 31, 2024

    UPDATE: Only days after this story was published, the decision was reversed, resulting in a second story which can be read here. Issues of nepotism, favoritism, and a lack of transparency are apparently behind the future replacement of Lake Wales Police Chief Chris Velasquez, who was informed Monday of a three-day suspension and eventual replacement by City Manager James Slaton. The action follows a complaint filed by the Poor and Minority Justice Association early this year a...

  • Misleading Election Mail Blankets City, Implies Sheriff's Endorsement

    Suzie Schottelkotte, News Staff Writer|Updated Mar 29, 2024
    1

    Lake Wales voters have been receiving postcards from an out-of-town Political Action Committee that appear to falsely imply that Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has endorsed a candidate in the city commission District 4 race. Judd said that's not the case. The mailers feature a photo of Judd standing next to a grinning Danny Krueger, suggesting that Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is endorsing City Commissioner Danny Krueger's bid for re-election in Tuesday's vote. "I'm not...

  • Reinstatement of Police Chief Velasquez Brings Angry Response from Commissioner Williams

    News Staff Report|Updated Mar 27, 2024

    The surprise reinstatement of suspended Lake Wales Police Chief Chris Velasquez by City Manager James Slaton at the start of Tuesday's city commission meeting brought a fiery response from City Commissioner Daniel Williams, who held his thoughts through the entire meeting but launched into his angry comments hours later during a commissioner comment period. Slaton had announced the suspension of Velasquez only days earlier after a complaint filed by a local civil rights advoca...

  • Sebring Man Charged With Armed Robbery After Lake Wales Bank Heist

    News Staff Reports|Updated Mar 15, 2024

    A Sebring man who decided to make an "unauthorized withdrawal" from the Bank of America in Lake Wales is in jail and charged with armed robbery. Dennis T. Davis, 42, reportedly walked into the Bank of America at 11 a.m. Tuesday and approached a teller indicating he had a firearm in his jacket pocket, which he pointed at the teller. After demanding and receiving cash, Davis fled on foot westbound from the bank at 1100 SR 60 East in Lake Wales with an undisclosed amount of...

  • Skydivers Injured in Jump Incident That Left Them Scattered on City Streets

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Mar 13, 2024

    A 14-person attempt at formation skydiving in Lake Wales Monday afternoon left two skydivers with life-threatening injuries. Witnesses said that at least one parachute appeared to become tangled and failed to fully open. Two women in the group made hard landings, sustaining injuries that required them to be airlifted to a trauma center. According to witnesses, one skydiver came down at the intersection of North Scenic Highway and Wiltshire Avenue. Witnesses immediately began...

  • Lake Wales Crash at 137 MPH Leads to Death, Manslaughter Charges

    News Staff Reports|Updated Feb 28, 2024

    A Lake Wales woman is in custody after a horrific accident on Saturday morning resulted in the death of a passenger in her vehicle. After what police described as "a very active and ongoing traffic homicide investigation," the Lake Wales Police Department obtained an arrest warrant for Jeanette Gonzalez of Lake Wales for DUI Manslaughter. The crash took place on U.S. Highway 27, in front of Weikert Ford, where officers found 38-year-old Eliecer Padilla of Lake Wales deceased...

  • Doctor Arrested on "Probable Cause" Charge of Video Voyeurism, Concealing Evidence

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Feb 3, 2024

    A sharp-eyed young patient at a local physical therapy clinic spotted an active camera in an area she was using to change clothing, resulting in an investigation that led to the arrest of the doctor operating the clinic. Dr. Plla Gayed, 38, of Crosston Circle in Orlando, operates the AVA Rehabilitation Clinic at 1342 SR 60 East in Lake Wales. An affidavit filed by the Lake Wales Police Department led to the issuance of a search warrant that produced video evidence suggesting t...

  • "Grants for Great Ideas" to Benefit Local Educational Efforts

    Special to the News|Updated Jan 23, 2024

    Teachers and other school-based professionals that work directly with students at a local school are invited to apply for a mini-grant that will fund classroom activities. The GFWC Lake Wales Junior Woman's Club Grants for Great Ideas program is offering $5,000 that will be divided into $250l grants to augment teaching, Instructors at Lake Wales Charter Schools and Polk County Public Schools with a physical Lake Wales address are eligible. Grant applications have been sent to...

  • Lake Wales Police Partner With Wallet Card Project to Help Protect Those With Autism Spectrum Disorder

    Troy Schulze|Updated Jan 20, 2024

    Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder may be at special risk as they move about in the community, and the Lake Wales Police Department is reaching out in an effort to encourage individuals with ASD to obtain a free Wallet Card. The Wallet Card Project facilitates effective communication between law enforcement and persons with disabilities to avoid any misunderstandings. In addition to being a valuable resource for residents, the local department will also receive training on...

  • Police Arrest Tire Store Employee After Attempt at Credit Card Fraud

    News Staff Reports|Updated Nov 9, 2023

    Lake Wales Police have arrested a local store employee and charged his with credit card theft after he used customer information to attempt to obtain cash. A customer purchased tires at Tire Kingdom in Lake Wales on Saturday, November 4 using their credit card over the phone. According to Sgt. William Smith of the Lake Wales Police Department, within 24 hours, the victim began receiving alerts that the credit card had been used in an attempt to transfer money via an online app...

  • US 27 Closed by Multi-vehicle Crash

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Oct 3, 2023

    New details are slowly emerging after the huge pileup crash Thursday evening at the intersection of US 27 and Chalet Suzanne Road in Lake Wales. "Several people were injured" in the crash, according to police, with at least one with injuries described as "life-threatening." The intersection remained closed for several hours as investigators and emergency medical personnel worked the scene. According to investigators and eyewitness accounts, a Chrysler 300 attempted to make a...

  • Two Men Arrested by Lake Wales Police After Gun Incident

    News Staff Reports|Updated Sep 30, 2023

    Two young Lake Wales residents found themselves quickly in the custody of police after one attempted to rob a man near Polk Avenue Elementary school. According to police, the incident "does not appear to be a random act, as the victim was an acquaintance of the suspects." No shots were fired during the encounter, which was apparently an attempt to frighten and rob the victim. Minutes after receiving the call, a Lake Wales Police response led to the arrest of Joemil Olivers of...

  • Tampa Woman Arrested by LWPD After Theft of $6000 Necklace

    News Staff Reports|Updated Sep 22, 2023

    A 37 year old Tampa resident was arrested following quick action by Lake Wales Police officers who responded to a reported robbery. The suspect was charged with stealing a $6,000 necklace from Kay's Jewelers in the Eagle Ridge Mall Wednesday. Officers from the LWPD were dispatched to Kay Jewelers mid-afternoon following a reported robbery. Officers were told that a woman, later identified as identified as Shaneka S. Webb, entered Kay's Jewelers and asked to see a gold...

  • Lake Wales Property Tax Rate Raised by One Mill

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Sep 21, 2023

    The first ad valorum tax rate increase in nearly a decade was approved by the Lake Wales city commission on first reading Wednesday. The new property tax hike of 16.34 percent will contribute to the city's $99.5 million budget for fiscal year 2022-2023, which begins October 1. For many years in a row, Lake Wales commissions have simply adopted the "roll-back" rate, which was the rate which would generate the same revenue year after year, while the rate fell. That steady...

  • Police Labor Contract Approved by Union, City of Lake Wales,

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Sep 14, 2023

    An agreement approving a new three-year contract between the City of Lake Wales and city police patrol officers and sergeants was ratified by local members of the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association in a unanimous vote Wednesday night, after being previously approved on the city commission's consent agenda. The new contract will run through 2026. Police officers and sergeants will receive a six percent cost-of-living allowance (COLA) on October 1. Two further...

  • Lighted Stops for School Buses Provided Through City Effort

    Eric Marshall|Updated Sep 14, 2023

    All 130 school bus stops throughout Lake Wales are well-lit following the efforts of city staff. The improvements came after a thorough assessment was completed by City of Lake Wales staff who identified bus stop locations from reports provided by the Polk County School District and the Lake Wales Charter Schools system. "Staff in the streets department and police department evaluated school bus stops within the city limits and pinpointed locations that accommodated both...

  • Lake Wales Junior Woman's Club Kicks Off Fall Festival Planning

    Special to the News|Updated Aug 29, 2023

    Plans are underway for its 2nd Annual Fall Festival, a free event that features food trucks, beer, music, professional carnival games, inflatables including two bounce houses, general vendors, community booths, farm animals from several area schools, selfie photo spots, and more. The annual event is sponsored by the GFWC Lake Wales Junior Woman's Club, and will run from 11:00 am until 4:00 pm on Saturday, October 14. at Lake Wailes Park. Event proceeds will fund programs that...

  • Local Woman's Club Awards $5,000 to Teachers This School Year

    Special to the News|Updated Aug 9, 2023

    Area teachers are now eligible to apply for individual grants of up to $250 that can fund special classroom activities or programs that can enhance the educational process for their students. The GFWC Lake Wales Junior Woman's Club has announced its Grants for Great Ideas mini-grant program for the 2023-2024 school year. To be eligible, teachers and other school-based professionals that work directly with students must work at an LWCS or PCPS school that has a physical Lake Wa...

  • Six New Patrol Officers Sworn in to Serve Lake Wales Police Department

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Aug 8, 2023

    Six new patrol officers were sworn in to serve the citizens of Lake Wales during a moving ceremony at the Lake Wales City Administration Building Monday evening. More than 40 residents gathered to hear Chief Chris Velasquez and other members of the department share the stories of the paths that led the men to the local department, and commend their commitment to service. In welcoming the group to the ranks of the local department, Velasquez reminded them and their assembled...

  • Gun Violence Leaves Two Local Men Dead at Grove Manor

    News Staff Reports|Updated Aug 7, 2023

    Two Lake Wales men were killed Sunday evening in a pair of shootings, and investigators are seeking reasons. According to reports, the first victim was found in an apartment in the Grove Manor public housing complex around 8:00 pm Sunday suffering from a gunshot wound. Marquese Johnson, 23, was found by witnesses and transported to a local hospital where he died. Witnesses reported that they had seen a man identified as Kendrick Akins leaving the apartment as they arrived,...

  • Two Arrested for Drug Sales While Working at Pizza Restaurant

    News Staff Reports|Updated Jun 28, 2023

    Two employees of a popular Lake Wales pizza outlet found themselves arrested Thursday after police alleged that pizza was not the only thing people were buying at the restaurant. According to a statement issued by the Lake Wales Police Department, detectives from the department's Crime Suppression Unit launched an undercover investigation after they received a tip that drugs were being sold by an employee of Pizzano's Pizza. A phone call to restaurant restaurant manager Leon...

  • Lake Wales Mardi Gras Dishes Out Grants to Area Charities

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Jun 23, 2023

    Representatives of thirteen area charitable organizations were smiling Thursday evening as they assembled to receive grant awards resulting from the efforts of the Lake Wales Mardi Gras. The event, hosted at Wales Pointe Restaurant, saw the awarding of a total of $26,000 to the groups. The $26,000 raised and donated by the Lake Wales Mardi Gras Committee represents funds raised in donations by sponsors, vendor fees, and sales during the event. The annual charitable donations...

  • State Attorney Rules August 2022 Police Shooting Was Justified

    News Staff Reports|Updated Jun 7, 2023

    In a long-delayed ruling, the State Attorney's office has announced that their investigation into a exchange of gunfire between police and a suspect last August determined that police use of deadly force was justified. Earnest Borders, 57, of Lake Wales, was killed. A police department K-9, Max, also died in the gunfire. A letter signed by Assistant State Attorney Mark Thomas Levine states that "it is my opinion that Officer Jared Joyner and Officer Esaul Hernandez were justif...

  • Police Seek Driver of Cadillac in Crash That Claimed Two Lives

    News Staff Reports|Updated May 24, 2023

    Police are seeking the whereabouts of a Haines City man who reportedly drove at high speed and ran a red light on US 27, resulting in the deaths of his two passengers. Lake Wales Police have obtained an arrest warrant for 40-year-old Aljerune Brooks of Haines City. An investigation confirmed Brooks was the driver of the Cadillac that failed to stop at the signal at Washington Avenue, crashing into a "yard dog" truck cab owned by Florida's Natural. The driver of the truck,...

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