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Polk detectives arrest 9 men in undercover sting

Polk County, Florida -- After receiving complaints about indecent activities at Saddle Creek Park, detectives arrested nine men for soliciting lewd acts during an undercover operation.

On Friday, February 21, Polk County Sheriff's undercover detectives conducted a Vice initiative at Saddle Creek Park in Lakeland. A total of nine men, ranging in ages from 48 to 76, were arrested for soliciting lewd acts.

Sheriff Grady Judd had this to say about the undercover operation:

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Police looking for hit-and-run suspect in Lakeland

Lakeland, Florida -- Polk County Sheriff's Traffic deputies are asking for the public's help in finding out who hit and killed a Lakeland bicyclist.

Around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 22, 32-year-old Eric Pope was riding his bicycle north on the east edge of Reynolds Road near Lisa Lane when he was struck from behind by an unknown vehicle. Pope was thrown approximately 100 feet, and then landed in a ditch where he died on scene.

Womack officially steps down as Lakeland police chief

Lakeland, Florida -- Lisa Womack is officially done with her position as Lakeland's police chief.

Lakeland City Manager Doug Thomas announced Friday evening that Police Chief Lisa Womack and the City of Lakeland have agreed to accelerate her planned separation from the City from May 1, 2014 to Feb. 17, 2014.

Man who stole personal property on school campuses arrested

Polk County, Florida -- Polk Sheriff's deputies say the man wanted for walking onto school campuses in Polk County and stealing teachers' wallets has been captured.

Don Cornelius Stephens, 38, was arrested in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and has been booked into the Forsyth County Jail.

Stephens had three Polk County burglary warrants for his arrest and two Felony Petit Theft warrants with more charges pending.

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Local sheriff's offices see deputies move for more money

Winter Haven, Florida -- There seems to be a talent drain going on in the region when it comes to law enforcement.

Deputies from smaller, lower paying-departments are being lured to larger, higher-paying agencies.

Just this past week, on the popular police forum Leoaffairs.com, a conversation says Tampa Police are "...about to hire a lot of Polk Co. S.O. deputies." It says "Roughly 20 or so" were present at TPD's recently-offered physical test.

Just four Polk deputies were hired away by TPD last year.

Lakeland group takes in rescued cats

LAKELAND, Florida (AP) - The population at an animal rights shelter in Lakeland is overflowing with cats brought in from a home in Brooksville.

Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals spokeswoman Jessica Lawson says the cats were found last week in a home in "deplorable conditions."

Grow house found in Polk County barn

Polk County, Florida -- Two people have been arrested for growing and selling marijuana, and not providing animals with proper care. 

Polk County Sheriff's Office detectives made contact with the residents who owned a barn on Frostproof Road. Detectives met Luis Delgada and Noelia Ramirez and through their investigation also found two rooms in the barn that were being used to grow cannabis.