WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd was away from the office Tuesday morning, as he, and his deputies, attended an annual fishing event with local kids.
It's an event the sheriff's office holds every year to give kids the chance to interact with officers in a positive way. On Tuesday morning, deputies and wildlife officers helped about 50 children catch fish. For some, it was their first time -- and their faces lit up with that first catch.
"What's more wholesome than fishing in Florida?," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. "We're sharing this special time with children. When their face light up, so do ours."
About five dozen children were invited to fish with deputies, and they learned the importance of boating safey from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. All of this took place in the sheriff's office backyard: a lake behind the Winter Haven headquarters.
Sheriff Judd said the event helps them build and improve their relationship with the community.
"It is one of my favorite events. These children all catch fish today, then we have a nice lunch and then we send them home with a prize or a toy," he explained. "This is what is right about Polk County. This is how we do business here. We create friendships and partnerships every day."
Those gifts, the sheriff said, were purchased by donations from anonymous donors.
"When you look at these children today, they've never been fishing," Judd said. "Many don’t have an adult female or male in their lives. What we're doing at a very young age is we are creating friends with them. It's that seed we plant today that makes a positive difference in that community."