LAKELAND, Fla. — Lakeland's new police chief is now officially helming the department. 

Chief Ruben Garcia was sworn in Friday. 

A Lakeland native, Garcia graduated from Lake Gibson High and served with Lakeland police for 32 years. Garcia joined the department in April 1987 after serving four years with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Garcia, 54, takes over for former Chief Larry Giddens, who announced his retirement earlier this year after being chief for five years. 

He has a degree in Criminology from Saint Leo University and served as one of the agency’s three assistant chiefs for the past three years. 

"I’m extremely honored to continue to serve the City of Lakeland," Garcia said. "Its citizens and the members of the Lakeland Police Department as we continue to work in partnership to safeguard our neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for our citizens and visitors alike. 

"The Lakeland Police Department has been blessed with strong support from our community, our City government and our many county, state, and federal partners. Through accountability, urgency and transparency in our actions, we will continue to earn such support every day."