Hours before Hurricane Irma made its trek toward the Tampa Bay area, a territorial dispute erupted between Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill.
The debate was over the mayor’s announcement earlier that day to impose an overnight curfew in Tampa. Merrill argued he was the only person in the county to have such jurisdiction, a claim Buckhorn disputed.
In the end, it didn’t really matter; Buckhorn declared the curfew over around 8 a.m. the day after Irma hit.
However, if it was up to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, no one in such a situations would be declaring curfews.
“I’m not a fan of curfews,” Gualtieri told members of the Tampa Bay Area Legislative Delegation at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater Monday afternoon.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman also declared a curfew, but, at the time, he said it wouldn’t be enforced.
Gualtieri stressed “consistency.” If a curfew is to be imposed, the Sheriff said it’s best to be announced for an entire county, versus an individual city. “That does tend to confuse people,” he said.
If a curfew is to be imposed, the Sheriff said it’s best to be announced for an entire county, versus an individual city. “That does tend to confuse people,” he said.
Tampa House Democrat Sean Shaw asked directly if the city can call for a curfew when a county hasn’t.
“They do but I don’t think they should. I think it should be centralized,” Gualtieri responded, adding it wasn’t a good thing if one city calls for an evacuation while the county doesn’t.
“People get confused just by the situation they’re faced with, much less mixed messages coming out of whether it’s the city or the county,” Gualtieri said.