Sheriff Grady Judd from Polk County, Florida, doesn't have a case where he needs Apple's help to unlock an iPhone, but if he did he'd be ready to throw company CEO Tim Cook in jail for not helping.
Real promotion poster of Sheriff Grady Judd sold by Polk County Sheriff's Office
Sheriff Judd shared his stance on court orders calling on Apple to help law enforcement unlock iPhones during a press conference earlier this week where he was talking about a in investigation that ironically didn't involve terrorists, iPhones, or even a smartphone with data they couldn't access. He was, however, asked about last December's San Bernardino mass shooting where the FBI obtained a court order compelling Apple to create a version of the iPhone operating system that strips out the security measures blocking hackers from attempting brute force attacks on passcodes.
His reply, according to Fox 13 News,
I can tell you, the first time we do have trouble getting into a cell phone, we're going to seek a court order from Apple. And when they deny us, I'm going to go lock the CEO of Apple up. I'll lock the rascal up.
Apple is fighting the order, calling it an overreach of government authority and a dangerous precedent threatening privacy and encryption.
Sheriff Judd has a history of finding ways to draw the media's attention and has made some brazen statements in the past. In one police involved shooting for example, he said his offers shot a suspect 68 times after he killed an officer and his K-9. Why 68 times? Because that's all the ammunition they had.
The FBI's court order came as part of an investigation into a mass shooting where Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik killed 14 coworkers and injured 22 others. They were later killed in a shootout with police who then recovered an iPhone linked to Mr. Farook.
Apple helped the FBI recover data from the locked iPhone, but stopped short of creating an intentionally less secure version of iOS. The company is fighting the order in court and is scheduled for a hearing on March 22.
"You cannot create a business model to go, 'We're not paying attention to the federal judge or the state judge. You see, we're above the law,'" Sheriff Judd said. "The CEO of Apple needs to know he's not above the law, and neither is anybody else in the United States."
Considering his penchant for the limelight it's no surprise Sheriff Judd found a way to spin himself into the iPhone unlocking fight. The unfortunate part is that he won't be the only person to use a horrible tragedy and its aftermath to get some attention for themselves.