POLK COUNTY, Fla. — The Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida tweeted out a series of confusing warnings as the state prepares for the arrival of Hurricane Irma.
The string of tweets at first seemed to claim officers will be checking IDs at shelters, and will turn away sex offenders and predators.
However, subsequent tweets claimed anyone with a warrant would be targeted, and said fugitives should go to jail instead of shelters.
Confused and shocked Twitter users criticized the apparent message: That those with warrants of any kind will be, at least, turned away at shelters, and at worst, arrested.
The Daily Beast spoke with a representative from the sheriff’s office who said arrest was “a risk a person would run” if they showed up seeking shelter with an outstanding warrant.
She clarified that the ID check would weed out the sex offenders and would serve to flag any fugitives.
“While we are checking, if we see someone with an active warrant we have to place them under arrest,” she said, claiming jail would be a safer bet than “to expose yourself to a Category 5 storm.”
Some Twitter critics pointed out that hundreds of inmates were abandoned in dangerous conditions after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
According to Human Rights Watch, 600 inmates in the Orleans Parish Prison compound were trapped in chest-deep water for four days before they were rescued from the flooded city.