Florida County Sheriff: We’ll Be Checking IDs at Shelters

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has drawn comparisons to former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio for what the ACLU describes as “exploiting a natural disaster.”


A Florida county sheriff announced that not all those seeking refuge during Hurricane Irma will be accepted in shelters.

“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 Judge posted on Twitter Wednesday.

Hurricane Irma is a Category 5 Storm that has already reportedly killed at least nine people in the northern Caribbean Islands, CNN reported this morning.

And according to weather.com, “Irma has been a Category 5 hurricane for more than a day and a half, which ranks it as the 7th longest lasting Category 5 in the Atlantic basin, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach. Irma could take a run at the longest lasting Category 5 hurricane by Friday.”

Twitter users immediately responded to the sheriff’s comments, pointing out that those with outstanding warrants for minor offenses — such as parking tickets — will be turned away. Also of concern among many is the fate of undocumented immigrants living in Polk County.

According to Data USA, 94.2 percent of Polk County residents are United States citizens — a slight decrease from the prior year’s rate, 94.4 percent. The Hispanic population in the county is on the rise, going from 16.3 percent in 2010 to 17.8 percent in 2016, U.S. Census Data shows.

Judd doubled down on his comments later, reporting to Fox 13 News that the Sheriff’s Office was providing a “warning” four or five days in advance so those with outstanding minor warrants could turn themselves in.

“Never before did I think that we’d be beat up for giving people a warning and keeping people safe — but hey, that’s okay,” he said to the outlet.

“It’s important to understand, if you’re a sexual predator, and a sexual offender, we’re not going to let you sleep next to any five- or six- or seven-year-old babies,” Judd also said.

But according to Carrie Horstman, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office, the warrant that determines whether someone receives shelter could be for any level offense. She told the Orlando Sentinel that officers will not be able to see what the crime warrant is for at the time people are seeking shelter.

Horstman also told the Sentinel that undocumented immigrants will not be impacted by the policy. However, she reported to the New York Times that those seeking shelter would be required to provide personal information.

“It is normal protocol to have an accountability log and to know the names of each person going in,” she said to the Times. “We need to know who is in there.”

Following President Donald Trump’s decision to put an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, undocumented immigrants already fear information they voluntarily provided to the government will now be used to deport them. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Sept. 5 that “information provided in DACA requests will not be proactively provided to other law enforcement entities,” such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), but also added that the policy “may be modified, superseded, or rescinded at any time without notice.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) weighed in, saying that Sheriff Judd is “exploiting a natural disaster.”

Meanwhile, Sheriff Judd has a history of a “tough on crime” attitude and particularly focuses on undocumented immigrants committing crimes.

He has drawn comparisons to former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of criminal contempt after violating a court order that instructed him to stop racially profiling Latino motorists. Trump pardoned the ex-sheriff last month.

At the time, Judd told ABC Action News that he was not personally familiar with Arpaio’s case but said that Trump pardoned him simply for a misdemeanor, suggesting the pardon was in fact justified.

“My initial reaction is, that was a misdemeanor that President Trump pardoned him for, while President Obama pardoned hundreds and commuted the sentence of hundreds of hardcore drug dealers and use guns in the commission of a felony. So when you look at one president that pardons hardcore felon drug dealers using guns, and the other president, Trump, pardoning a sheriff for a misdemeanor?”

(In total, former President Barack Obama commuted 1,715 sentences, which is significantly higher than presidents in recent history. However, he pardoned only 212 people, which is average or relatively low when compared to his recent predecessors. Of all his requests for pardons he only granted 6.2 percent. Former President George W. Bush granted 7.6 percent of requests for pardons. Meanwhile, former President George H.W. Bush granted 10.1 percent of requests. Former President Bill Clinton’s rate was lower, at roughly 3.1 percent.)

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    • If people die, which they might because of his actions, he should be brought up on charges. He is endangering the lives of many thousands of people. This is vile, unprofessional and even criminal.

  • One of the shelters for Harvey victims in the Dallas/Fort Worth area — in Irving, Texas — announced that “background checks” would be performed on those seeking shelter there. As a result, no one wanted to use that shelter. This guy is going to cost people their lives. Since most children are molested by family members or close family friends, a public shelter — with little to no personal privacy — is probably a place where molestation is least likely to occur.

        • Cockroaches always find a way to survive. I’m not sure if this is a common practice or just something they are doing now? They made it sound like this is normal.

        • I see nothing wrong with checking people to make sure a bunch of criminals especially those with a history of sexually abusing children are not allowed in shelters full of innocent women and children. Its not being stated these people will have no refuge, simply that they will be brought to the place they belong……..jail.

    • Lauri Sue Robertson

      Definitely correct, Grannybunny! Anyone who thinks that kids get molested by random strangers in public places is just thinking about his/her own fantasies!

  • I don’t disagree that any shelter should have some kind of security in place but not this kind of security. You can’t use a natural disaster like this to find opportunity to arrest people. This is ridiculous and the governor should not allow it!

  • There’s a bit of what he’s saying I agree with regarding emergency management. Running a check on people in shelters isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You may have the issue of child pedophiles, people having warrants for violent and non violent crimes housed in the same building as others. So in a way this starts the discussion of effective emergency management taking a form of public safety functions and services society uses and provides to abbreviating it during a disaster event. Now on the other side of the coin, if people are without forms of identification, he shouldn’t push people to produce when needing protection from nature’s elements takes priority. The sheriff should consider some preventive measure in the prevention phase of emergency management. The act he’s suggesting isn’t wrong. It’s more his motives which can spend the clock if you’re trying to figure that out.

    • I wonder if the dude with the Confederate flag (yesterday’s article) thought to bring his ID with him. Stress makes you do funny things – there are a lot of articles about what people took with them as they evacuated in Texas. Odd things, things that don’t make sense.

      • I see your point. If I’m an Emergency Management Director, I would have never thought to implement an ID/background check. It won’t be effective if people know ahead of time they can go to jail if seeking sanctuary.

        Don’t know much about this sheriff. So it really comes down to his true motives. If by what you stated, will he do this for everyone or based on race and ethnicity.

  • I saw a news article on this Sheriff previously and he does a bit on the local news where he does a Wheel of Fortune type spinning wheel and the arrow points to outstanding fugitives. The arrow points to the fugitive they will be going after that week. He says if you think you have friends, you’re wrong – you’re friends will be ones turning you in. In this case he is warning the fugitives to turn themselves in before trying to get into a shelter.
    I think the situation would be better served to have a secure area within the shelter to put those who have warrants. Although, I think advertising their intentions wasn’t so smart – they could have just checked IDs against warrants and segregated them as they entered the shelter instead of the fugitives now maybe not taking their families to a safe location because they’ll be arrested.

  • Not all felons are felons for violent crimes. Warrants are also issued due to parking tickets. I don’t think someone should risk death because of that. Also, what if someone is frantically trying to escape the storm and misplaced their ID? Will they be denied shelter because they forgot their ID? People could die because of this silly, backwards thinking.

    And what about this — if the sheriff’s office is really interested in catching people, why announce that people will be arrested if they seek shelter? Why not just arrest them when they arrive? Of course they won’t come now. I have committed no crimes/ have no warrants that I know of, and I would try my damnedest to go elsewhere.

  • Herman Goodloe

    This is just another little person trying to make a name for hisself . He should be trying to protect instead of arresting . When this is over he should be replaced . How insensitive can you be . You serve no one but yourself and you must be replaced .You have just put your foot in you ?

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