With 48 years of public-protection service, Jim Judge spent the past 7 1/2 years as Volusia County’s calm, poised and reassuring presence during times of emergency and peril.
Whether it was a hurricane, tornado, flooding or, more recently, the coronavirus pandemic, the public could always rely on Judge to deliver straight talk, clear information, effective response to a crisis and lifesaving messages about how to stay safe in an emergency.
Just days before retiring Jan. 22 from his post as Volusia County’s emergency management director, Judge got a warm send-off at the County Council’s Jan. 19 meeting during a recognition ceremony in his honor.
Among his many accomplishments, Judge helped guide Volusia County to its first-ever full accreditation by the national Emergency Management Accreditation Program. He was among the first group to earn the Florida Professional Emergency Manager certification in 1999 and was also inducted into the Florida EMS Hall of Fame for a lifetime of achievement in emergency medical services.
But in Volusia County, he will be best remembered for being the face of emergency management while helping to guide the county and its residents through numerous hurricanes and severe weather events, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and other potential disasters.
“I do appreciate every second you put into it, and you put in more than most,” County Manager George Recktenwald told Judge before addressing others in the chamber. “Not only has he done a spectacular job here, but he has put us on the map statewide and nationally.”
Judge’s immediate supervisor, Public Protection Director Joe Pozzo, heartily echoed the county manager’s accolades.
“When George says he’s the best, he really is,” said Pozzo. “He’s going to be tough to replace.”
County Council members also took their turn honoring Judge, calling him a consummate professional and a man of high integrity and credibility who always did his job with confidence, a calm demeanor and a smile.
After hearing all of the glowing comments, the normally talkative Judge was brief.
“It’s quite an honor to be with you this morning,” Judge told the council.
An accomplished professional in emergency medical services, fire services and emergency management, Judge served as executive director of Lake-Sumter EMS and, then after that, Lake County EMS before being hired as Volusia County emergency management director in June 2013.
Judge also worked in numerous other positions around the state. He has received numerous local, state and national awards for administrative and operational excellence in the field of public safety.
In his retirement, Judge plans to enjoy family time as well as engage in his primary hobbies — traveling, camping, boating and golfing.