UNION COUNTY, Fla. - The mood started with a humorous moment when the Union County judge forgot to grab his Bible.
But then, it came down to business. And with that, a new sheriff was sworn in Friday.
"It is a very emotional day," said Sheriff Brad Whitehead, whose father died last month. "I have been coming to my father's office for 29 years while he was sheriff. It's different with him not being here. But he's smiling down upon us and we know he's happy today."
Whitehead is following in the footsteps of his father, the legendary Sheriff Jerry Whitehead, who after more than 30 years of service died from cardiac arrest just one week before Christmas. Before him, his father, John, had also served in that role.
It's a touching moment for those who knew and love all three men.
"It's hard to even put into words," said Capt. Brad Smith, of the Bradford County Sheriff's Office. "Sends chills down my neck just thinking about it. I know his father is looking down on him with great pride and a lot of tears."
Whitehead said he always looked up to both men and knows their wisdom and love for law enforcement taught him well.
"Do what's right for this community and the people and treat people fair -- firm and fair," he said. "If you do the right things for the right reason, then the rest of it is in God's hands."
Even though the first day of a new job can be nerve-racking, there's no doubt the people of Union County have put great faith in their new leader.
"He's just a great people person. It's part of his family makeup," Smith said. "That's what the Whiteheads are all about."
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