Not everyone gets to live out a dream, let alone two. But that’s exactly what Pasco County Sheriff candidate Maurice Radford says he’s been able to do with his life.
The 25-year law enforcement veteran is running for the office currently held by Chris Nocco. Radford, 50, served alongside Nocco before he was appointed sheriff by Gov. Rick Scott last year. He also served under him following that appointment until Radford decided to retire last September.
Radford had been with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office since 2001 when former Sheriff Bob White asked him to join the ranks as a major. He was the commander over the patrol division throughout White’s tenure. That is, until Radford tendered his resignation last year.
About that resignation, Radford, a Republican, had little to say. He did, however, allude to differences between himself and Nocco as the motivation.
“I found myself trying to temper his decision making and direction to the troops,” Radford said about Nocco. “As a leader on the executive staff, I was third in command. That obviously caused some concern and friction.”
Radford said he and Nocco had a discussion and “agreed it just wasn’t working out.” They “agreed to part ways” and Radford turned in his resignation.
Nocco was unavailable for comment.
Radford, who resides in Wesley Chapel, said he didn’t intend to run for sheriff when he left his post. Time and requests from others, he said, gave him the inspiration needed to file paperwork with the Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Office in February.
“I had a number of individuals within the community and at the sheriff’s office ask me to strongly consider jumping into the race because of my experience and leadership there over the last decade,” he said.
Radford said after giving it some thought, he decided he wasn’t quite ready to give up his law enforcement career. He credits the men and women of the sheriff’s office for motivating him to move forward and for helping him achieve past successes.
“The men and women I served with, the deputies, they deserve a lot of the credit,” he said. “(They are) both day and night putting themselves in harm’s way so we can go about our lives. I saw to support them so they in turn could do their job. I’m very proud of the work they’ve done over the years under my leadership.”
The Early Years
Radford is a native Floridian – born and raised in Pensacola. Though he didn’t immediately enter law enforcement, he said he grew up with two main dreams: to work on cars and to serve the public.
He’s been able to do both.
Prior to becoming a full-time law enforcement officer, Radford owned auto parts stores. While running the two businesses, he served as a volunteer with the Florida Marine Patrol starting in 1983.
“I had two desires as a young teenager growing up,” he said. Both his father and grandfather made their living in the automotive industry. The younger Radford said he, too, enjoyed “tinkering on cars,” which is why he took that initial path into the business.
Even so, he paid attention to the law enforcement officers he came in contact with and was inspired to get involved in public service. That’s when he started volunteering.
“I was living the dream both ways,” he said.
In 1987, the call of law enforcement became too strong, he said. Radford decided to sell his businesses and enter law enforcement as a career.
After completing the police academy, he joined the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. He went on to lead that agency’s criminal investigations bureau as the commander over an area that stretched from Orlando to Key West. It was while serving in that capacity he became familiar with Pasco County, he said.
When Sheriff White asked him to join the ranks in Pasco, he decided to take the leap.
Radford faces competition not only from Nocco, but also fellow Republicans Roger Fortney and Mike “XX” Foxx in the Aug. 14 primary. If he’s successful in his bid, he’ll face the Democrat candidate in November’s general election.
He says it is experience that sets him apart from other candidates.
He touts his “command level knowledge, training and actual experience with demonstrated results” as reasons why residents should consider him for the post.
“To me, leadership and experience are something to be demonstrated at this level rather than learned."
Radford has been married to his high school sweetheart, Nina, for 31 years. They have two adult children and two young grandsons.