Jail review panel meets in Tampa

03/21/08 Arielle Stevenson
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If you live in Tampa Bay and own a computer, chances are you’ve seen or least heard of the Jan. 29, YouTube video of Hillsborough Deputy Charlotte Marshall dumping Brian Sterner, a quadriplegic being booked into jail, and then proceeding to search him while on the ground.

Since the video was posted almost three months ago it has received more than 193,000 views. However, turnout at today’s second independent review commission on jails at Jefferson High School in West Tampa was sparse. The Commission was formed by Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee in response to the incident and five additional claims of abuse by inmates.

Dr. Lorie Fridell is an associate professor at the University of South Florida, a state board member of the ACLU, and a nationally recognized as a expert on the use of force by police. She asked Major James Previtera whether real life situations are turned into training for new cadets.

The main issue was not in fact the wheelchair incident itself, or training for new cadets, but rather a lack of training for long-term employees, Previtera said.

Commission member Linda McKinnon, chief executive of the Central Florida Behavioral Health Network. asked what training is currently in place for those deputies and supervisors that are in-service.

Previtera said the training needed for those already in-service is something that could be several years away but he knows is necessary to maintain quality for the department.

Commissioners and Previtera said the blame does not fall entirely on Deputy Marshall, but belongs equally to supervisors that stood by and did not take action.

In late February, five inmates publicly accused the Hillsborough deputies of abusing them. One said a deputy had broken her arm, two others claimed to be beaten, and another said she suffered brain damage. Footage of repeat inmate Ben Rayburn shows deputies dumping the paraplegic from his wheelchair and leaving him on the floor for an hour.

For information on upcoming meetings of the independent commission review on jails, check the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office website.

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