Polk County sheriff grandstanding on nonissues to win votes

September 14, 2013 

We're used to seeing Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd on the Tampa TV news professing outrage when his deputies arrest someone whose crime most of us would denounce without his say-so.

This was the guy who, when asked why an alleged cop killer was shot 68 times by a team of deputies, said, "That's all the bullets they had" -- a statement that no doubt thrilled the Second Amendment-loving crowd.

Judd's public pronouncements certainly make it more difficult to find an unprejudiced jury when surviving defendants come to trial -- a condition that no doubt thrills the Fifth Amendment (Miranda Rights, self-incrimination, etc.) haters.

But why haven't we seen the sheriff's televised ranting over events of the last few months in Lakeland, a Polk County municipality, where the city police have been involved in several alleged instances of unethical behavior?

First there was the woman stopped for a burned-out tail light who had to shake her bra so the officer could check for drugs. There's also the more recent sex scandal allegedly involving numerous Lakeland city police officers.

Admittedly, these incidents didn't involve Polk deputies, but they happened in Judd's county. Then we learn not long ago of Judd's own underlings attending a meeting at a black community church, apparently to report possible wrongdoing to their superior, a gathering the church officials said they would've been welcome to attend without the secrecy.

Where's the good sheriff's moral indignation now? I'd gladly watch Judd on TV to hear him tell me what an outrage the recent occurrences in Polk and Lakeland were.

The sheriff should spend more of his time running his department and finding perpetrators than using TV "news conferences" as free ads in a re-election campaign, a la Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Robert Kushner


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