IRMA: Under a warrant and need shelter? Polk sheriff says go to jail

By Christie Zizo, Digital Media Producer
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 06, 2017, 9:52 PM EDT

Need to seek shelter and under a warrant? Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says he's got a nice safe shelter at the jail.

  • Polk sheriff: Anyone with a warrant at a shelter would be taken to jail
  • Sex offenders, predators will also not be allowed in
  • Sheriff's office says they just want people to deal with warrants now

The Polk County Sheriff posted on his official Twitter account that deputies will check identification at any county shelters that open because of 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," Judd said in one tweet.

Sex offenders and predators will also not be allowed in.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Carrie Horstman told the Associated Press they're trying to educate the public before the storm hits this weekend.

She says they're hoping people with warrants will turn themselves in and use the next few days to deal with their legal issues.

But not surprisingly, Judd's tweets sparked an uproar, which included a response from the ACLU. 

While Judd says the most important issue is safety, there is a question of whether the tweets will lead people to endanger themselves rather than turn themselves in. 

Gov. Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi both said they had not heard about the comments. However, Bondi said she would talk to the sheriff and see what she could do to make sure all Floridians were helped.

"I hope we're a compassionate state and country, and that we will take in anyone that needs shelter," Bondi said. "I don't know, I haven't talked to Sheriff Judd yet and I know he cares about our citizens and maybe he's doing it first for the citizens of Polk County, maybe he's prioritizing."

The Polk County Sheriff's Office put out a fuller statement on Facebook Wednesday night. The agency says the law requires them to take anyone with a warrant into custody -- regardless of the charge.