POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – He’s known as the sheriff with great one-liners. But, News Channel 8 decided to find out who Grady Judd is behind the uniform.
“My responsibility is to look out for and protect the people in this community,” Sheriff Judd said. “And I love being the sheriff every day.”
It’s a job he knew he wanted, even when other kids made fun of his childhood dream. “I had my guns. I had my cowboy hats. I’d say, ‘One day I’m gonna be the sheriff,’ and all the other kids in the neighborhood would laugh at me and say, ‘They’re never gonna let a kid from Combee Road be the sheriff.’ … And here I am,” Judd said.
He showed News Channel 8 a 1950s photo, his most prized possession. The photo is a gift from Judd’s father. It shows little Grady Judd on his uncle’s knee. The uncle Joe served as sheriff. Judd is wearing a mini deputy badge on his jacket.
“By the way, that’s the first time I spent a night in jail because we actually stayed in the white county jail in Tennessee,” he said.
Decades later, Judd, a sheriff himself, is known for his no-nonsense justice and memorable quips. “My mamma used to tell me when I was growing up … ‘Son, if you could just get that brain engaged one second before you got your mouth engaged … you’d be much better off,'” Judd said. “Most of the things I don’t regret. I mean I think through it when I have an opportunity … Otherwise, I just blurt it out and pray.”
Judd’s been married to his high school sweetheart since 1972. .”She says, ‘You don’t have a romantic bone in your body. Everything is just business with you,'” he told News Channel 8. “But she puts up with it.”
The other love of his life is photography. “This is my stress reliever. Some people need psychiatrists and some people need psychologists. I found it’s just a whole lot cheaper to buy a camera,” Judd said. “I truly love animals cause I like action cause of the action and speed. But I love landscapes.”
His snapshots reveal Judd doesn’t just have an eye for law enforcement; he also has an eye for photography. Judd’s photos were most recently displayed at the Polk County History Center.
The sheriff also mentioned what he plans to do if and when he retires. He first says he has no intention of seeking a higher office, although many have encouraged him to do so. He said he’d like to go back to teaching at the college level, as he did for many years before becoming the sheriff of his beloved Polk County.