A Florida sheriff has offered shelter to any residents with outstanding warrants seeking refuge from Hurricane Irma -- the Polk County jail.
The Polk County Sheriff's Department sent out a series of tweets informing those with outstanding arrest warrants that they ought not head to hurricane shelters to avoid Irma, which is expected to make landfall in parts of Florida by Sept. 9, according to CNN.
"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," read one of the tweets issued by the Sheriff's Department official account.
The Polk County account also took a hard line against any sexual predators or offenders seeking asylum from the hurricane, stating they would not be allowed in either.
"If you go to a shelter for #Irma, be advised: sworn LEOs will be at every shelter, checking IDs," reads the series of tweets. "Sex offenders/predators will not be allowed."
"If you have a warrant, turn yourself in to the jail -- it's a secure shelter," the sheriff's department wrote.
Users on Twitter were surprised by the harsh tone of the tweets, suggesting that even those who have committed crimes deserve a safe place to stay during a hurricane. One user also pointed out that sexual predators might not necessarily have any warrants.
When asked further about the stance, the Polk County Sheriff's Department clarified its position to the Daily Beast.
"While we are checking, if we see someone with an active warrant we have to place them under arrest," explained a department spokesperson. The representative also mentioned that preventing sex offenders and predators from entering the shelter was to keep them away from children.
Officers making the checks won't be able to see what the arrest warrant is for, leaving open the possibility that those with misdemeanor warrants will be turned away at the door, according to CBS News.
The spokesperson also dismissed the idea that the department's position would dissuade people from showing up at all, reports the Daily Beast.
"That is a risk a person would run,” the spokesperson said. "I think it is much safer to be in our jail than to expose yourself to a Category 5 storm. You are using the phrase, 'people who are scared to go to jail.' If you have a warrant, legally you should be in jail. You should turn yourself in and be safe in our jail rather than risk your life waiting out a storm."