Hurricane: Where do the sexual predators go?

Hurricane shelters are provided to the public for emergency shelter. “The public”…that means the good, the bad…all of us.

Well…not everywhere in America.

In Florida, the state banned sexual predators and offenders from shelters four years ago (with the exception of those on supervised parole). Instead, they can bunk up at one of the local prisons. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd isn’t throwing a pitty party…”It’s their own fault,” Judd said. “They are the ones that misbehaved. They’re the ones that were ultimately designated as a sexual offender or sexual predator. They need to go somewhere else.”

I posed this question to the Sheriff’s Office of New Hanover County. Still waiting to hear back. Then I called Warren Lee, New Hanover County Emergency Management Director….

Warren said that currently, there is no policy on sexual predators at New Hanover county’s hurricane shelters. Emergency service’s goal is to get everyone in safe and sound…and quickly. Basically, there isn’t enough time or resources (officers) to do background checks on everyone at the door.

He also said that here in New Hanover county there has not been a reported problem with predators at our shelters. Still, it may be something to be aware of if you’re heading in with your family. Not to make anyone paranoid…just aware.

Repeat offenders now wear ankle bracelets and monitors that are supposed to track them via satellite. If they go within 300 ft of a location used for minors (i.e. a school) the device is supposed to alert authorities. As you may have seen in my report on the bracelets…the device has some major limitations. Technical limitations aside…”rules” may fall by the way-side in an emergency.

Warren told me that many of the shelters are divided for women/men/families. I’ve never stayed in a shelter so I’m not sure how it works but he says the organization is done with safety in mind.

Again, I bring this up not to cause anxiety, but to reinforce caution. Often the strongest guard against any potential threat…are your own two eyes.

What do YOU think? Should sexual predators be allowed in public hurricane shelters?

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