REMEMBERING MONROE BRANNEN
Polk County is remembering the life of long time law enforcement officer and four term sheriff Monroe Brannen, who died Thursday from complications of pneumonia at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. He was 91.
Brannen, who served as sheriff from 1961 to 1976, was not only known and respected as a lawman, but as a great historical source. He also served as an influence for a number of current office holders. Among the current politicos hired by Mr. Brannen were now-State Attorney Jerry Hill, who was but 18 years old when he was hired as a jailer, and current sheriff Grady Judd, who was 18 when hired as a dispatcher (Brannen made Judd the first Polk sheriff's deputy under 21 when the age requirement was lowered). Judd remembers him this way:
"He was my idol when I was a child...He was the sheriff for most of my childhood, and his brother lived down the street from me. Whenever Sheriff Brannen would come visit him, I'd run down the street just to get a look at the High Sheriff. And I'd think, `Someday I'm going to grow up and be sheriff.
Brannen went through a lot in his 37 years of law enforcement. He was shot in 1949 while working a domestic violence call as a Lakeland police officer, losing an eye. And during his 1976 reelection campaign he was indicted on charges of perjury and conspiracy to discredit a political rival. He was acquitted of the charges, but lost the general election to then-Florida Highway Patrol trooper Louis Mims.
Lakeland Ledger political writer Bill Rufty writes about the life of Monroe Brannen in today's edition.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.