Sheriff sued after offering those with warrants shelter at county jail during Hurricane Irma

A Virginia man is suing a Florida sheriff because, he claims, he was denied shelter during Hurricane Irma because he refused to undergo a background check.

“Criminal suspicion is not raised by trying to enter an emergency shelter to save one’s life and the life of family members,” states the suit, which was filed electronically Sunday by Nexus Services, an immigration rights group.

The suit, which claims violations of Fourth Amendment rights, does not say whether plaintiff Andres Borreno had an outstanding warrant.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd made it clear via Twitter that officers would be checking IDs at all of the shelters and offered safe housing at the county jail for those who had active warrants. Judd also noted that sex offenders and predators would not be allowed inside the shelters with the general population, namely children.

The sheriff’s statements, while applauded by some, created national controversy. Still, Judd is unapologetic about his decision.

“They filed that lawsuit for free press and it’s obviously frivolous. I have a nationwide profile and they see it as an opportunity for nationwide press,” said Judd, who noted Borreno was treated no differently than anyone else entering the shelters.

“We check everyone who comes to a shelter to ensure they aren’t a sexual predator or a child sexual offender,” Judd said. “We are absolutely not going to let a sexual predator or a child sexual offender sleep next to a child in a storm shelter.”

The sheriff said some 43 sex offenders in Polk County sought shelter during Hurricane Irma and were taken to a safe area of the jail, but were never placed in police custody.

[ Orlando Sentinel ]