Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says grabbing public attention helps him keep the community safe

The sheriff of Polk County is one of the most well-known law enforcement officers in Florida, if not the country.

Grady Judd is about to celebrate 50 years with the sheriff's office and FOX 13’s Kelly Ring spent the day with him to get his perspective on half a century in law enforcement.

The sheriff is known for his unfiltered descriptions of bad guys, but Judd says he doesn’t say things just to get attention.

"I lay it out there and tell them the truth and a little entertainment draws their attention to what’s important -- and that’s the story."

Sheriff Judd was on the job early

Grady says he was destined for law enforcement from the beginning. 

In a photo, given to him by his dad a few years before he passed away, a tiny Grady sits on the lap of his uncle, wearing a little sheriff’s badge.

Sheriff Judd set a goal of becoming sheriff when he was a young boy, and he spent years preparing.

"I spent a lot of years in college. I have all my degree. I taught for 23 years at both the University of South Florida and Florida Southern, so I studied the systems and the processes of keeping people safe." 

Sheriff Judd’s everlasting love

The sheriff’s wife of almost 50 years, Merissa, says she’s not a bit surprised by his success. He predicted it on their first date.

"He said, ‘What I want to do is be the sheriff,’ and I said ‘OK’ and I figured if he wanted to do it, he would… and he loves it, every day," she said.

Merissa knows she can’t send him to run errands at Walmart or Lowes because he won’t come back for hours. Too many people stop him along the way, and he’ll talk to everyone. 

But he still keeps her laughing, 50 years later.

"He’s just funny, a funny person, even more probably now," she said.

"The thing is, I love her more today than yesterday, than the day before, the entire time I’ve known her," Judd said.

At 68 years old, Sheriff Judd has no plans to slow down any time soon and says he certainly doesn’t plan to run for any other office. He’s busy enough with the one he’s got.

A day in the life of Sheriff Grady Judd

Judd begins every day with his management team at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. It may be the only time in the day when he sits down.

Sheriff Judd has gained notoriety nationally because he’s not afraid to tell it like it is and has no qualms about calling out criminals in public. He says he comes up with most of his comments in the spur of the moment. 

His news conferences have inspired spin off videos, rap songs, and an international following.

The sheriff said he doesn’t mind the attention, as long as it helps him keep his beloved community safe.

"Every day when I come to work I am going to interact with the community that I love." "I give the credit to God, and family and this wonderful work team. Not a day goes by… not talking and listening to…. For my community."