Twitter storm before Hurricane Irma

September 8, 2017

Twitter storm before Hurricane Irma

Florida Sheriff Threatens To Check For Warrants At Hurricane Shelters. Those with outstanding warrants at Florida shelters will be escorted to jail, sheriff’s office warns.

The tweets resulted in critical comments and national press coverage. ACLU is saying that Judd is exploiting a natural disaster and endangering lives.


A Florida sheriff is standing by controversial tweets warning that IDs will be checked at hurricane shelters and those with warrants will be escorted to jail.

The tweets resulted in critical comments and national press coverage. Most of the people on twitter slammed the sheriff.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd’s posted the first tweet: “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.”

A second tweet read: “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.”

Public information officer Carrie Eleazer Horstman told the Tampa Bay Times she wrote the tweets. But the sheriff was standing by the message nonetheless.

“If you show up at a shelter, we’re going to shelter you safely, but it’s going to be in the county jail because we have a legal obligation to execute the warrant,” Judd told Fox 13. He says the tweets are intended to warn offenders that they should take care of minor infractions before going to shelters.

Judd told News Channel 8 he was surprised by the criticism. “Never before did I think that we’d be beat up for giving people a warning and keeping people safe, but hey, that’s okay,” he said.

“There was a lot of hype. It’s important to understand that if you’re a sexual predator and a sexual offender, we’re not going to let you sleep next to any 5-year-old babies.”

Horstman told the Orlando Sentinel she hoped the tweets would encourage people to go to shelters because they know they will be safe. Officers are required to take anyone with a warrant into custody, and they aren’t able to see whether a warrant is for a lesser crime such as a nonviolent misdemeanor, she said.

She told the New York Times that people in some misdemeanor cases could turn themselves in and be released on bond before the hurricane. It is normal protocol to have an accountability log at shelters and to know the names of each person going in, she said.

Asked whether immigration status would be checked, Horstman answered, “No, we are not concerned about that.”


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