A Florida sheriff Tweeted a series of threats to evacuees seeking shelter from Hurricane Irma.
“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,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd posted on his official Twitter account on Wednesday.
Sheriff spokeswoman Carrie Horstman explained the Polk County Sheriff’s Office was merely trying to educate people and says they’re hoping people with warrants will turn themselves in and utilize the next few days to deal with their legal problems.
“Officers are legally obligated to take a person into custody if they have a warrant,” Horstman added, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
But she didn’t mention anything about people with warrants and their responsibilities to protect their families evacuating the hurricane, which is projected to be a Category 4 storm when it hits Florida on Monday.
She also didn’t offer shelter options for minor family members whose guardians have warrants.
Judd also posted registered sex offenders would not be permitted into shelters.
“We cannot and we will not have innocent children in a shelter with sexual offenders and predators,” Judd Tweeted.
Twitter critics responded, asking if there was a shelter provided specifically for “undesirables” and argued sex offenders don’t necessarily have warrants.
Others pointed out that in 2005 during Katrina approximately 600 inmates were abandoned and trapped in chest-deep water before they were rescued from the dangerous conditions at the Orleans Parish Prison compound.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida slammed Sheriff Judd, saying most people with warrants are wanted on minor charges and urged the sheriff to, “focus on preparing for Irma, not burnishing your Joe Arpaio-style ‘tough cop’ credentials with irresponsible tweets.”
“This will endanger not only the lives of those who avoid shelters, but also the lives of the first responders under Sheriff Judd’s charge who will have to rescue the people he just told to stay in harm’s way,” the ACLU of Florida wrote on their Facebook page.