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July 2019
Dear Friend,
In the past month, we've had some local headlines regarding wildlife...bear-sightings in south Lakeland, and a fatal alligator attack near Fort Meade.
Please remember to be careful around wild animals; they may be exciting to look at, but do it from a safe distance. And always keep in mind that these animals can show up anywhere, even your front door. 
Remember , in Florida it is against the law to feed alligators, bears, raccoons, foxes, and even sandhill cranes. 
Respect wild animals. After all, they're not called wild because they like to go to parties. If that was the case, we'd call them party animals. 
But seriously, be cautious of them, and admire them from afar. 


Grady Judd, Sheriff 
15 inmates graduate from "Jobs for Life"

On May 2, 2019, fifteen Polk County Jail inmates completed an 8-week faith-based program called "Jobs for Life," provided by Heart for Winter Haven, a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation committed to empowering individuals, businesses, organizations, and churches working together to renew people and places, one life-transforming deed at a time.

The course starts with each person recognizing their own value and their goals. From there, they develop their character, their vocational plan, resumes, development of job leads, and identifying and conquering obstacles. The inmates created a vocational plan toward overcoming any roadblocks they might encounter. They also were provided with career assessments, took part in mock job interviews, and created professional resumes. The overall emphasis is on the importance of getting and maintaining meaningful employment.

"I'm excited for these 15 inmates. The Jobs for Life program offers them a springboard upon their release from jail where they have the potential for obtaining and keeping an honest job. We want to see them succeed and contribute as positive members of their communities, and hopefully never return to jail. We are so thankful for Heart for Winter Haven for their hard work and commitment to helping these inmates succeed." - Grady Judd, Sheriff

Congratulations , graduates! We are proud of you for taking the necessary steps to better your lives and learning skill sets to gain employment upon your release!

Inmate Brandon House with Pastors Jonathan Winfree 
and Brad Beatty
Black bear spotted in Lakeland

What would you do if you saw a bear in your yard or neighborhood? We're happy you asked!

According to our good friends over at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) June is the beginning of bear breeding season, and we had 2 reported black bear sightings in Lakeland near the airport. 

PCSO received a call on Sunday, June 16th, from a woman living on Ewell Road, and the FWC took a call on Monday, June 17th, from the Drane Field Road area.

This is an actual photo of the bear seen near Drane Field Rd, provided  by Rosemary of Lakeland.

Here's a friendly message from the FWC: " During this time of the year sightings are not uncommon, as juvenile bears are leaving the family unit and looking to establish an area of their own. Also, June is the start of bear breeding season and bears may travel more widely in search of a mate. If potential attractants such as garbage, pet food and birdseed are secured, the bear should not linger. In addition to securing attractants, the FWC urges the public not to approach a bear if they see one, and to keep a safe distance. If you do encounter a bear at close range, do not run. Remain standing upright, speak to the bear in a calm, assertive voice, and back up slowly while leaving the bear with a clear escape route."

So what should you do if you spot a bear? In Polk, please call the FWC's Southwest Regional Office at (863) 648-3200.

For more information about the Florida black bear, please visit
New Law regarding Texting & Driving

On July 1st, the new texting & driving law went into effect in Florida. 

Texting while driving was already against the law, but it is now a primary offense. That means, if a law enforcement official sees you texting while driving, he or she can pull you over for that offense. 

You can still use your cell phone for navigational purposes, and you can still text in your car while it is stopped.
Hopefully, You'll Never Need It, But...

Our next FREE "Surviving an active assailant" training to help prepare citizens for a horrific event is this month.

We invite you to attend this free program presented by highly trained PCSO law enforcement professionals. Learn what the best practices are and how you can make a difference.
This training is designed and appropriate for churches, businesses, or individuals, to help prepare citizens for a possible active assailant event.

All sessions are FREE and are open to the public - the next scheduled class is:

Saturday, July 20, 2019
PCSO Sheriff's Operations Center
1891 Jim Keene Blvd, Winter Haven
10:00 a.m. - noon

If you wish to attend any of the upcoming ACTIVE ASSAILANT TRAINING sessions, please RSVP to, and please include the class you wish to attend, your name, your phone number, and if you have a group, the number of representatives expected to attend.
And this one for all the ladies out there...

Our next FREE Women's personal safety and self-defense class is scheduled for Tuesday, July 23, 2019, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the PCSO Sheriff's Operations Center, 1891 Jim Keene Blvd, in Winter Haven.
The class is free of charge and for ladies 13 years and older. Those under 18 will need a parent present to sign a waiver at the start of class.
Each class is approximately one hour long unless more than 30 women attend. For every additional 10-15 females, 15 minutes are added to the time frame.
The class consists of lecture (approximately 15 minutes) and hands-on techniques (approximately 45 minutes). Attendees will demonstrate all of the techniques on a body opponent bag (B.O.B.) which we will supply.
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
PCSO Sheriff's Operations Center
1891 Jim Keene Blvd, Winter Haven
6:30 pm - 7:30-ish pm
If you wish to attend, please RSVP to, and please include your name and phone number.
Our FREE signs are almost all gone!

If you've procrastinated and haven't gotten your free yard sign, this might be your last chance to get one before they are gone.

Here is how you can get your  FREE yard sign! C ertain rules must be followed, so please check those out:

* Limit- One per household, please
* Available for homeowners and renters in Polk County
* Must comply with Polk County's sign ordinance 
* The sign is classified as a "Short-Term Temporary Sign"
* It can be displayed up to 90 consecutive days (similar to a campaign sign)
* Up to twice per calendar year
* Sign permit is not required
* Minimum 10 foot setback from a roadway
* Please respect homeowner's association rules
* Please review and comply with local sign ordinance rules if you live inside a city.
* Please do not place signs adjacent to major roadways, on public rights-of-way, near intersections that might affect visibility, or placing signs in "every yard in the neighborhood."
* Make sure signs do not interfere with visibility for backing out of driveways.

To request a sign email us at or call us at 863-298-6677, and give us your name, address, and phone number.

We will deliver a sign to your residence but if you don't want to wait, s igns may also be picked up (one only, please - not multiple signs) at the Polk County Sheriff's Office Operations Center at 1891 Jim Keene Blvd., Winter Haven.
Our new PCSO members

Here are the newest members of the Polk County Sheriff's Office who were hired in June. They look forward to serving you.

Front row L to R: Frank Dankowski, Le Le Collins, Keyshla Matta Vazquez, Courtney Godwin

Back row L to R: David Aguilar Jr., Ana Marie Garcia, Brandy Light, Joni Denby, and Sheriff Judd
Get hired and get FREE money.
Good News! Would you like to become a member of the Polk County Sheriff's Office and help make a difference in our community? 

PCSO is now offering a Sign-On b onus for new hires. Start your rewarding career today! 

For more information, contact Human Resource at 863-298-6440 or visit our website to learn how to become a member.

Crossing Guard subs needed
The Polk County Sheriff's Office needs substitute crossing guards in the Combee/Crystal Lake area, and the Auburndale/Winter Haven area.

School Crossing Guard services are provided by the sheriff's office through county commission funds. This program provides crossing guards at hazardous street crossings to ensure safety for elementary school children walking to and from school.

The substitute should be available to work for one hour in the morning and for 30 minutes in the afternoon when scheduled to work a crossing.

Contact supervisor Heather Strafford at 863-534-7300, ext. 108.

Grady Judd

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