November 2005


in this issue
  • A Note from Sheriff Judd
  • Traffic Campaign Focuses On Red Light Running
  • Faith-Based Initiative Celebrates Inmate Baptisms
  • Advanced Education a Priority at PCSO

    Traffic Campaign Focuses On Red Light Running

    The “Stop Red Light Running Campaign” — sponsored by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Community Traffic Safety Team — is revving into full gear with the goal of reducing red light running in Polk County, and the fatalities and injuries it causes.

    The goal of the campaign is to decrease red light running violations, and therefore increase intersection safety. Another goal is to increase awareness of the consequences of running red lights. Drivers who run red lights will pay a high cost: the fine for running a red light recently increased (Oct. 1, 2005) from $116.50 to $181.50, along with 4 points on the motorist’s driving record. The campaign will include frequent increased enforcement initiatives at designated high-volume/high crash intersections throughout the county on a routine basis. During the ongoing campaign, traffic deputies will monitor and target problem traffic areas.

    The special traffic enforcement campaign aims to better inform and educate the public about the seriousness of this all-too-common danger, and spotlight the consequences of failing to stop at red lights. The traffic initiative promotes public education about red light safety, and provides for a county- wide, coordinated law enforcement response supported by the Community Traffic Safety Team, which includes the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, local city, county and state agencies.


    Faith-Based Initiative Celebrates Inmate Baptisms

    As part of Sheriff Judd's new faith-based initiative that offers jail inmates spiritual guidance and assistance, four inmates were the first to be baptized at Central County Jail in September. The baptisms - conducted by Dr. Lee Spell, Director of the Faith-Based program - took place in a portable baptismal pool set up in the common area of building C at the Central County Jail. Family members, guests, volunteer mentors, and chaplains gathered to witness and celebrate the event. The two male and two female inmates who were baptized expressed gratitude for the overall Faith-Based program, and a desire to leave the jail as changed people. These 4 were the first of hundreds of inmates who have expressed these same desires, according to Dr. Spell.

    “As a law enforcement agency, not only do we approach this issue as a matter of the heart, but as a crime prevention model. When we partner with faith-based groups to give our inmates the guidance and resources they need to become productive citizens and turn away from their criminal lifestyle, crime decreases and the quality of life for Polk County increases,” explains Sheriff Judd.

    The initiative features faith-based programs, mentoring and dormitories. The non-denominational programs are voluntary and open to most normally classified minimum and medium custody inmates. Programs are non-denominational, although various faiths are involved and all faiths are invited to participate. If you would like more information on how to become a volunteer with the Faith-Based program, call 534-6132.


    Advanced Education a Priority at PCSO

    Continuing education and professionalism are top priorities at the Polk County Sheriff's Office, and every effort is made to encourage members to pursue advanced education and training opportunities.

    To that end, the Polk Sheriff's Office has arranged to bring two degree programs featuring on-site classes held here at the Sheriff's Office: Barry University is offering an on-site Bachelor's Degree program in Public Administration, and Troy University is offering an on-site Master’s in Public Administration Program. As a convenience for members, the classes are held at the PCSO Northeast District in Winter Haven.

    In an additional effort to encourage the pursuit of a higher education, the PCSO reimburses tuition costs and provides monetary incentives for members to help with expenses. A look at recent statistics show that Sheriff's Office members are taking advantage of the educational opportunities provided to them: of the members who have earned and/or are working on college degrees, 233 currently have Associate degrees, 273 hold Bachelor's degrees, and 33 have graduate degrees (31 Masters and 2 Doctorates).


    A Note from Sheriff Judd
    I proudly serve as the Chairman of the Florida Sheriffs Association Legislative committee, which met last month to discuss the priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

    As Florida Sheriffs, we identified the following issues to support as top priorities for Sheriffs’ employees and the citizens we serve: support the effort to gradually increase the health care stipend for retired Sheriff's Office employees through the Florida Retirement System (FRS); support changing the formula for the FRS employee retirement income from an average of the highest five years’ salary to an average of the highest three years’ salary; support enhancement of retirement benefits of jail nurses and civilian law enforcement pilots; and support an increase in the retirement rate calculation for 9-1-1 Operators and Sheriff's Office telecommunicators.

    We also made the following suggestions for legislative changes: modify and strengthen the Jessica Lunsford Act and strengthen the Florida sexual predator and sexual offender laws; preserve the constitutional office of the Sheriff; increase enforcement of red light running; strengthen state law related to mutual aid agreements to increase and enhance interagency cooperation. The Sheriffs also support state compensation to counties for housing designated state inmates in an effort to compensate counties for the costs of incarcerating state inmates.

    Please partner with us as we work with other law enforcement partners and good government advocates to make Florida a safer, better place to live, and to improve the working and retirement conditions of law enforcement employees.

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