Florida sheriff threatens arrests at Hurricane Irma shelters for fugitives

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd

Asked whether the office is anxious the tweets might discourage some from seeking shelter, Horstman noted that the office would be held responsible if they allowed sexual predators to share shelter with children and families or if they failed to arrest someone who they knew had an outstanding warrant.

The Washington Examiner's Kelly Cohen declared such a policy "will lead to deaths" because "not everyone has an ID", and the Daily Beast's Sam Stein suggested the predator crackdown "would discourage people from showing up" at the shelters. If their name shows up as a registered sex offender, they will not be allowed inside the shelter.

Judd posted on Twitter that deputies will be checking identification at the county's shelters, and anyone with a warrant will be arrested and taken to "the safe and secure shelter called the Polk County Jail".

"If you have a warrant, turn yourself in to the jail - it's a secure shelter", reads another.

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".

These are the words of the Polk County Sheriff's Office in Winter Haven, Florida, which tweeted out a series of confusing warnings as the state prepares for the arrival of Hurricane Irma. During Hurricane Harvey, officials in Texas told undocumented immigrants they would not be arrested seeking shelter from the storm.

"Officers are legally obligated to take a person into custody if they have a warrant", she said. However, subsequent tweets simply claimed anyone with a "warrant" would be targeted, and said fugitives should go to jail instead of shelters.

Polk County, between Orlando and Tampa, is home to about 600,000 people.

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