United States sheriff on the lookout for fugitives at storm shelters

United States sheriff on the lookout for fugitives at storm shelters

United States sheriff on the lookout for fugitives at storm shelters

A Florida sheriff drew ire from residents and other county sheriffs when he threatened to arrest fugitives seeking shelter ahead of Hurricane Irma.

He says he's taking this stance because "we can not and we will not have innocent children in a shelter with sexual offenders & predators".

Because nothing says "save yourself from this oncoming natural disaster!" quite like announcing that you'll have police officers running background checks on anyone trying to find refuge from the storm. "Sex offenders don't necessarily have outstanding warrants", one critic pointed out.

"How many people will you have to rescue because they were afraid that seeking shelter might mean going to jail?" "Period", the sheriff's office officials wrote on Twitter.

He tweeted on Wednesday (6 September): "If you go to a shelter for #Irma, be advised: sworn LEOs [law enforcement officers] will be at every shelter, checking IDs".

Some tweeters wondered whether their unpaid parking tickets or a decades-old crime on their record could result in spending the night in a jail cell rather than on a FEMA shelter cot.

Judd was elected sheriff in Polk County in 2004, having started in the office in 1972 as a dispatcher.

Hurricane Irma: Polk sheriff warns IDs will be checked at evacuation shelters
'This is monstrous': Internet shellacs Florida sheriff for ID check and fugitive hunt at hurricane shelters

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida criticized the move and said Judd "should focus on preparing for Irma, not burnishing your Joe-Arpaio-style "tough cop" credentials with irresponsible tweets". There are 47 public shelters in the county, but they have not yet been opened to accept hurricane evacuees.

Twitter users were outraged by the statements as the potentially life-threatening storm approaches southeast Florida.

Horstman defended the policy.

"If somebody could possibly injure my child and I was in a shelter, I wouldn't want them around my kid", she said.

The Sentinel quoted State Rep. Carlos Smith saying checking IDs of storm evacuees unfairly impacts undocumented immigrants. Just one day before the tweet was sent, Polk County Deputy Russell Hilson, a 19-year-veteran of the force, was arrested for beating the shit out of his girlfriend.

"It's a tragedy, we'll need to rebuild both islands".

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