Sheriff gets robbed; why Grady Judd should have made Florida’s top Politicians of the Decade

grady judd
You want a politician with impact? 

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and I have sparred for years over issues of transparency, crossing the line in labeling innocent men “sex offenders” and his aggressive practices seizing property from private citizens.

Those videos were seen hundreds of thousands of times — and the controversial sheriff still got more than 95% of the vote when he ran for reelection in 2016.

In fact, Judd is so popular in Polk County, he hasn’t had an opponent on the ballot in 15 years!

But don’t mistake the tough-talkin’, camera-lovin’, bombastic Judd for just another lawman — he’s as shrewd of a politician as they come, tapping into rural America’s distaste for political correctness long before Donald Trump capitalized on it.

When Judd says he’s going to speak, assignment managers all across West/Central Florida stop the presses and race their crews to hear what the sheriff will say from his headquarters in Winter Haven, even though it’s about as remote as you can get from the newsrooms of Tampa and Orlando; you just know Judd will give you a sound bite (or six) worthy of leading a newscast.

I mean, half the state knows why Polk Co. deputies shot a fleeing suspect 68 times (they ran out of bullets).

Judd isn’t just one of the most recognizable politicians in Florida; with countless TV specials and his addiction to the Dateline-style undercover sex stings, he turned himself into the most recognizable sitting sheriff in America.

You want a politician with impact?

As president of the Florida Sheriffs Association in 2013 and 2014, Judd helped steer legislative priorities, a duty he continued even after leaving the statewide post. He’s also the current president of the Major County Sheriffs of America and plays a prominent role on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas State Commission.

Judd may not spend as much time in Tallahassee as some of Florida Politics’ other top politicians, but his popularity, impact, and ability to influence his community certainly rivals that of any Mayor on the list.

And with no opponent on the horizon for his 2020 reelection campaign, Judd is already building his resume for Florida Politics’ list of the top politicians for the next decade.

Noah Pransky

Noah Pransky is a multiple award-winning investigative reporter, most recently with the CBS affiliate in Tampa. He’s uncovered major stories such as uncovering backroom deals in the Tampa Bay Rays stadium and other political investigations. Pransky also ran a blog called Shadow of the Stadium, giving readers a deep dive into the details of potential financial deals and other happenings involving the Tampa Bay- area sports business.


  • Charles Jones

    January 3, 2020 at 9:41 am

    Despite the good work he has done, I’m not sure we should be encouraging his attention-gathering tendencies. In his last “To Catch A Predator” style media event, he taunted his “haters” (people who disagree with his sex-sting tactics.) His investigators bungled details of one of the suspects which he crowed about and unnecessarily brought embarrassment on our small church which we did not deserve. He’s become too much of a show-boater who loves the limelight. His own sense of importance may be starting to get in the way of his public duty.

  • Garry

    January 3, 2020 at 11:42 am

    I guess we could have more of the quiet types that don’t have near the impact that Judd has….While his county has a ways to go as far as Road law enforcement so does all of Florida ….We are killing way more people on our roadways in Florida than any storm…..But I think Judd has people’s attention and also that of the scum bags he wants to be rid of….

  • Sherry

    January 4, 2020 at 10:11 am

    When you live here with our boasting proud sheriff and still have the sex offenders, drug heads, murders that happen everyday that’s when I think that your opinion of him counts. We the citizens love the Sheriff simply because his “we ran outta bullets” is what this county needs ! That man had just broke in to homes and slaughtered innocent families that where sitting down to supper !
    So please come take a shot at our communities and let us know how you can do better

Comments are closed.


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