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Hurricane Irma: Florida sheriff bans sex offenders from seeking refuge in shelters
08 September 2017, 12:47 | Kara Nash
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd
As Hurricane Irma continued to churn toward Florida, a sheriff known for his outspoken comments created a storm on social media Wednesday.
The sheriff went on to tweet: "If you go to a shelter for #Irma and you have a warrant, we'll gladly escort you to the safe and secure shelter called the Polk County Jail".
He also wrote that sex offenders and sex predators would be barred from entering the shelters.
Judd said law enforcement officers will check identifications at county shelters, according to tweets posted Wednesday. "Sex offenders don't necessarily have outstanding warrants", one critic pointed out.
Some suggested Judd's threat may deter people from seeking shelter from Irma, staying home and putting their lives at risk to avoid going to jail.
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Although the tweets seem humorous, spokesperson for the sheriff's office, Carrie Horstman, said that they hope the offer persuades people wanted for crimes to turn themselves in.
Patrick Monahan, a Twitter comedian, tweeted back, "This definitely won't cause anyone to try to ride out the storm because they have too many unpaid parking tickets or whatever". "We aren't sitting there looking for people to arrest", she said, the Sentinel reported. Being landlocked is no protection against hurricanes, the sheriff's office noted, tweeting the hashtag: #goawayIrma. You are using the phrase, 'people who are scared to go to jail.' If you have a warrant, legally you should be in jail.
Many internet users have immediately condemned the remarks made by the sheriff, accusing it of take advantage of the hurricane to make arrests.
Horstman said the office did something similar in 2004. As does whether or not there'll be a Polk County left when Irma is done with it. She added that the rule will also help the county keep a log of who visits the shelters during the hurricane.
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