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Hillsborough jail now reviewing booking videos every day

TAMPA — Jail supervisors are spending more time than ever reviewing booking videos at Orient Road Jail, Hillsborough County's jail chief told an independent review panel Tuesday.

Under an order issued by the detention head, Col. David Parrish, last month, booking lieutenants are to spend an hour each shift reviewing videos of any booking incident involving a disturbance or requiring use of force — and to submit a detailed report about what the video shows.

"The accountability is so much greater than it ever was before," Parrish told members of the 11-person Independent Review Commission on Jails.

The 2 1/2-hour meeting at the Sheriff's Office across from Falkenberg Road Jail was the fourth in a series of public forums the commission has held since it was established by Sheriff David Gee in February.

Gee called for the panel to study the jails amid a flurry of abuse allegations from inmates, including a booking video of quadriplegic Brian Sterner being dumped from his wheelchair by a deputy — video that garnered significant public outrage.

On Wednesday, Parrish explained a series of standard procedures for the treatment of inmates who are disabled, mentally ill, or under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

For the first time, members asked Parrish pointed questions about the incident with Sterner.

"You have a reputation of doing a really fine job," said Linda McKin­non, head of the Central Florida Behavioral Health Network. "I guess what I keep coming back to is, with all of that … how could it happen?"

"We're not going to have any training that says, 'When you're dealing with a person in a wheelchair, don't dump them out,' " Parrish responded. "There's no understanding what happened."

About 10 members of the public attended, including Ahmed Bedier, president of the Tampa/Hillsborough Human Rights Council, which gave Gee its 2006 human rights award. He and the sheriff also met earlier Tuesday to discuss jail abuse allegations.

Bedier said they offered suggestions on how to deal with people from various backgrounds and received assurances that Gee was working to improve conditions.

The commission's next meeting is April 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Tampa Port Authority. All meeting agendas and materials are online at www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.

Hillsborough jail now reviewing booking videos every day 04/15/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 3:36pm]
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