As Florida prepares to potentially face Hurricane Irma in the coming days, one sheriff’s office wants everyone to know that people with outstanding warrants shouldn’t expect a warm welcome at any shelters.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office sent out a series of tweets on Wednesday afternoon that said the department will be checking IDs at shelters set up for evacuation from Irma, and anyone with a warrant would be brought to jail.
In the tweets, the sheriff’s office begins talking about “sexual offenders & predators” not being allowed in shelters, before pivoting to anyone with an outstanding warrant; any of whom seeking shelter would be “gladly” escorted to the “secure shelter called the Polk County Jail.”
All of the tweets are as follows:
“If you go to a shelter for #Irma, be advised: sworn LEOs will be at every shelter, checking IDs. Sex offenders/predators will not be allowed. 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. If you have a warrant, turn yourself in to the jail – it’s a secure shelter. We cannot and we will not have innocent children in a shelter with sexual offenders & predators. Period.”
For reference, someone can be issued a warrant for not paying a parking ticket.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office website, 45 people with “Smith” as their last name and 36 people with “Jones” as their last name have warrants. During Hurricane Harvey, officials in Texas told undocumented immigrants they would not be arrested seeking shelter from the storm.
Carrie Horstman, a public information officer with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, briefly replied to several questions sent to her by the Daily Dot by nearly directly quoting one of the tweets.
“We are encouraging those with active warrants to turn themselves into the Polk County Jail—it is a safe and secure facility,” she said.
Polk County is in central Florida, just east of Tampa. As of Wednesday, it was unclear where exactly in Florida Hurricane Irma would impact the most, or whether it would make landfall in the state.
People on Twitter were not pleased with the Sheriff Office’s policy of arresting people who attempt to seek shelter with outstanding warrants.
Even today, with the bar at subsoil level, I am gobsmacked by this. That guy is a complete sociopath.
— David Roy (@david_roy) September 6, 2017
Good plan. Traffic warrant denies people life-saving shelters.
You guys are shining starts in the Law enforcement firmament.
— Ken (@twunch_) September 6, 2017
This definitely won't cause anyone to try to ride out the storm because they have too many unpaid parking tickets or whatever. Good job
— Patrick Monahan (@pattymo) September 6, 2017
What are you trying to accomplish with this tweet? The only thing it will do is encourage ppl to not seek shelter and risk injury/death.
— Chase Pettit ✌ (@chasepettit) September 6, 2017