An Inconsistent Message on COVID-19

A list of public officials who have called for aggressive measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, while simultaneously supporting the practice of arresting kids for first-time minor offenses.

(list by highest number of arrests)

(Hillsborough County - March 25, 2020)

Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller told WFTS Tampa Bay News that "Everyone has the utmost concern about what’s happening in the county and we want to protect every soul in the county from this pandemic, this virus.”

photo credit: ABC Action News

But, from April through October, Hillsborough County arrested 135 kids for first-time common youth misbehavior, forcing the youth into arrest processing areas that are high-risk for spreading the coronavirus.

There have been more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 in Hillsborough County as of mid-December, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

(Broward County - March 25, 2020)

Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Anything we can to do to flatten the curve … is imperative in my opinion.”

photo credit: Coral Springs Talk

But, from April through October, Broward County arrested 102 children for first-time common youth misbehavior, placing kids in contagious jail areas.

There have been nearly 1,800 deaths due to COVID-19 in Broward County as of mid-December, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

(Hillsborough County - April 17, 2020)

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister released more than 150 low-level, non-violent offenders due to the higher COVID-19 risk posed in jail areas. A day later, a released prisoner, who had a lengthy arrest history with a total of 35 charges, killed someone and was charged with murder.

photo credit: Hillsborough County Facebook

But, from April through October, the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office arrested nearly 100 children for first-time common youth misbehavior, forcing them into jail areas he deemed unsafe for adult low-level offenders.

“We are asking citizens to do their part, and at the Sheriff’s Office we must do our part, too, which is why I’m taking this step,” said Sheriff Chronister, explaining why he was releasing low-level, non-violent adult criminals with offenses such as cocaine possession and burglary.

Yet, at the same time his office was arresting children for lesser offenses.

(Orange County - March 24, 2020)

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings issued a stay-at-home order, noting he does not want people visiting their families unless it’s an emergency situation. He told the Orlando Sentinel: “It’s an understatement to say it’s spreading,”

photo credit: Orlando Sentinel

Yet, from April through October, Orange County arrested nearly 100 kids for first-time minor offenses, placing the kids in jail areas known to be high-risk for spreading the coronavirus.

There have been more than 700 deaths due to COVID-19 in Orange County as of mid-December, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

(Escambia County - April 1, 2020)

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan told WKRG News 5 his office would likely not be making traffic stops on people driving the roads. The sheriff added people would also not be getting arrested.

photo credit: PNJ.com

Yet, from April through October, Escambia County Sheriff made more than 50 arrests for first-time common youth misbehavior, compelling them to jail areas that are COVID-19 hot spots.

There have been nearly 350 deaths due to COVID-19 in Escambia County as of mid-December, according to the CDC.

(Hillsborough County - March 24, 2020)

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, one of Florida’s most outspoken proponents for shutdowns, told the Tampa Bay Times about the urgent need for closing businesses: “Time is of the essence.”

photo credit: Creative Loafing Tampa

However, from April through October, Tampa Police Department arrested nearly 40 kids for first-time common youth misbehavior, forcing children into known coronavirus super-spreader areas.

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