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Polk County, Florida -- Sheriff Grady Judd assembled a press conference Tuesday morning of nearly a dozen local law enforcement leaders to recognize their efforts in "Operation Cyber Vigilance," a March-through-June crackdown that already received thorough coverage in local media.

However, he either didn't realize - or didn't care - that a number of the 132 men whose faces appeared on his mugshot "big board" had already been cleared of committing crimes.

"Those folks that our parents warned us about are these people," Judd said, pointing to the mugshots. "These are the sexual predators that are prowling around, these are the bad guys."

Judd had no new arrests to report at Tuesday's press conference, instead touting the 132 arrests - already thoroughly covered by local media - made by the regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force he leads.

However, 10 Investigates, looking into instances of law enforcement misconduct, brought to Judd's attention that several of the men pictured already had their charges dropped by the courts. But Judd showed no remorse.

"It's fair," Judd said of their inclusion. "Because there is a difference between probable cause and 'beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.' And let me tell you one thing so there's no misunderstanding - when we arrest them as 'sexual perverts on children,' I'm going to call them 'sexual perverts on a child.'

Sheriff Grady Judd is unapologetic when he calls suspects in a sex raid "predators."

"Because we have a very liberal - a very forgiving - criminal justice system, sometimes it's more difficult to prove 'beyond to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.'"

Most of the 132 men were arrested for coming to a decoy house to meet what they thought was an underage teen. However, detectives made mistakes in some of the stings, and local judges have been increasingly critical of their tactics in tricking men into coming.

Thursday and Friday nights at 11 p.m., 10 Investigates will air a two-part special report on what law enforcement doesn't want you to know about the "To Catch a Predator"-type stings.

Judd says Central Florida doesn't have any more sexual offenders than other parts of the country, but "we dig 'em out and put 'em in jail" more than law enforcement in other regions.

Judd was joined by Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the regional task force chair for the Florida Sheriff's Association. Gualtieri called the arrested men "the worst of the worst."

Other attendees at Tuesday's press conference included the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Air Force investigators,the Orlando Police Department, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, and former Clearwater Police Chief Tony Holloway.

When asked why the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office was not a part of the press conference, Judd didn't have a clear answer:

"There are several agencies - what we do is move (the stings) around - and they probably contributed folks to the operation and representatives didn't all show up today."

A spokesman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) says the agency was aware of the operation, but it was not a participant. While HCSO has a full-time "Internet Predator" unit, it has been reluctant to commit resources to the time- and resource-intensive "To Catch a Predator"-style stings.

Instead, HCSO says it targets offenders that are participating in the proliferation of child porn, focusing on infants and young children who are exploited. A spokesman says those type of arrests tend to yield long prison terms as well as positive results on fighting sex trafficking.

For more of 10 Investigates' digging on the undercover stings, watch 10 News at 11 p.m. on Thursday and Friday nights.

PREVIOUS: Judd secretive on sex stings (7/1/14)
PREVIOUS: Law enforcement refuses to turn over records on sting (3/14/14)
PREVIOUS: Law enforcement may have entrapped men illegally (1/30/14)

Contact 10 Investigates reporter Noah Pransky via Facebook or through his updates on Twitter.

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