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Church and State

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd's mission from God to eliminate obscenity knows no bounds

Photo: , License: N/A, Created: 2011:02:15 00:13:16

"Was it OK for me to arrest him?" he asks the crowd. They cheer and applaud. One woman emphatically shouts "Yes!" Judd continues.

"People who commit crime like to hide behind the First Amendment," he says. "But the First Amendment doesn't allow you to yell ‘Fire!' in a theater, doesn't allow you to threaten the president and sure doesn't allow you talk about bombs on an airplane. So why should you be able to write a manifesto on how to sexually batter children?"

It's an oft-used statement that irks Brinson. Brinson argues that the fact that Judd calls Greaves' book a "manifesto" - which is defined as a statement that has some public importance -­ gives credence to the notion that the work could be protected by the First Amendment on the grounds that it has some political component. Therefore, Brinson says, prosecutors who work on the case would have to essentially create arguments that contradict Judd's statements.

"He's said a number of things that, as an attorney, you literally wince at," 
Brinson says.

But Judd seems less concerned with how his statements could be used against him in court than how they sit with his electorate. Take, for instance, the statements he made about the case of Angilo Freeland, a man who murdered a Polk deputy in 2006, then fled. A team carrying automatic weapons was sent on a manhunt to track Freeland down; when they found him, they shot Freeland 68 times (110 bullet casings total were discovered at the scene). When asked by a reporter why the deputies needed so many bullets to take down one man, Judd replied: "I suspect the only reason 110 rounds was all that was fired was that's all the ammunition 
they had."

It may seem like a callous remark, but it's that off-the-cuff candidness that makes him so popular in Polk County, according to Ashlei Aycock, a crime prevention specialist for the sheriff's office, who was in attendance at the January event at Lake Ashton.

"He tells it like it is, and he's got a good personality," she says. "He talks to us like regular people and knows our names, which not all sheriffs do."

Judd's affability and accessibility stands in stark contrast to the demeanor of his predecessor, Lawrence Crow, a soft-spoken introvert who rarely held press conferences. Before Crow, the county sheriff was Dan Daniels, who left the office in disgrace in 1987 after being investigated by a grand jury for accusations of misconduct and mishandling public funds.

"Grady's cut it," says J. Marion Moorman, the Polk County public defender. "I think he very accurately reflects the thinking of the typical Polk County voter."

At the Lake Ashton event, Aycock guesses that two-thirds of the crowd is there solely because of Judd. When he takes the stage, he receives a standing ovation and a cheer of "Whooo loves the sheriff?"

Moving through the crowd, Judd spots a man wearing a T-shirt bearing an illustrated bullet hole in the back accompanied by this quote: "Why 68 Times? ‘Because We Ran Out of Bullets!' -Sheriff Grady Judd."

Judd pauses, places his hand on the man's back, leans over and says: "Nice shirt."

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