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Florida Sheriff to wanted criminals seeking shelter: Plenty of room at county jail

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is threatening to jail wanted people seeking shelter due to Hurricane Irma.

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.

“Officers are legally obligated to take a person into custody if they have a warrant,” she said.

Judd said in preparation for the hurricane, fugitives should turn themselves into the jail because “it’s a secure location,” Judd posted to Twitter.

“We cannot and we will not have innocent children in a shelter with sexual offenders and predators. Period,” Judd posted to his Twitter, @PolkCoSheriff.

Other users on Twitter accused Judd of discouraging people from going to shelters, which could lead to injuries or death. Many questioned whether Judd would jail those wanted on traffic or drug charges.

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.

Check back for updates to this breaking news story.

chayes@orlandosentinel.com, 407-420-5493 or follow Christal on Twitter: @journo_christal


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