By Christal Hayes, The Orlando Sentinel
The sheriff, who is known for his outspoken comments, made the threat in a series of posts to Twitter.
“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 tweeted to his nearly 66,000 followers on Twitter.
Judd also posted that officers would be at every shelter checking IDs and that sex offenders and sex predators would not be allowed inside.
When checking IDs, if an officer sees that someone has a warrant, that person will be taken into custody, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Carrie Horstman said.
Horstman added officers don’t have a way of seeing what crime the warrant is for, so it’s possible those with non-violent misdemeanor offenses could be arrested.
Judd said in preparation for the hurricane, fugitives should turn themselves into the jail because “it’s a secure location.”
Horstman said the posts were made ahead of the storm to give people ample time to prepare.
(Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd put out a warning to sexual offenders and predators, and even those with outstanding warrants, that they’re not welcome at evacuation shelters ahead of Hurricane Irma. Courtesy of FOX 13 News – Tampa Bay and YouTube.)
“We cannot and we will not have innocent children in a shelter with sexual offenders and predators. Period,” Judd posted to his Twitter, @PolkCoSheriff.
Horstman said since there’s a possibility children will be in the shelters, sex offenders and sex predators are not allowed inside.
It’s unclear if any arrests were made at shelters due to warrants.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said Judd should “focus on preparing for Irma, not burnishing your Joe Arpaio-style ‘tough cop’ credentials with irresponsible tweets.”
The nonprofit says most people with outstanding warrants are low-level offenders and pose no threat in a shelter.
Judd’s comments “send the message that these individuals must choose between facing a natural disaster without aid and shelter or going to jail over things like unpaid traffic tickets,” a statement from ACLU reads.
They say Judd should be working to prepare the community and not “burnishing his Joe Arpaio-style ‘tough cop’ credentials with a series of irresponsible tweets.”
Arpaio, a former sheriff in Arizona, was found guilty of criminal contempt after denying a court order to halt stopping immigrants because of suspicion they were in the country illegally.
He was pardoned by President Donald Trump last month.
(Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd reacted to President Trump’s pardoning of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Friday. Courtesy of ABC Action News and YouTube. Posted on Aug 29, 2017)
Horstman said undocumented immigrants will not be affected by the policy.
She also said that the policy will help the county keep a log at the shelter, which she said is important during a natural disaster.
“We aren’t sitting there looking for people to arrest,” she said “We are sitting there to keep people safe.”
Some Twitter users accused Judd of discouraging people from going to shelters, which could lead to injuries or death.
The Sheriff’s Office says the effort will allow residents to feel the shelters are safe and spur more turnout, Horstman said.
“We hope it actually leads to more people turning themselves in,” she said.