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Panel: Training needed for Hillsborough jailers, By  Abbie VanSickle, Times staff writer 

Panel: Training needed for Hillsborough jailers

TAMPA — Deputies who book inmates into the Hillsborough jails should receive more training in stress management and dealing with people with mental health and substance abuse problems.

That’s one of the initial recommendations by the Independent Review Commission on Jails, a group examining the jail system in the wake of abuse allegations.

The commission issued a 25-page preliminary report Friday afternoon. The final report is due in September.

This first report focused mostly on the work that lies ahead for the group, which started meeting two months ago after a video was released that showed a deputy dump a quadriplegic man from his wheelchair.

Much of the commission’s work so far centered on building an understanding of the corrections system and learning the policies of the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office, including training in the use of force for detention deputies.

To complete the final report, the 11 commissioners will delve more deeply into the abuse allegations, find out whether deputies are following the sheriff’s policies and come up with specific recommendations for improvements.

In the report, commissioners outlined their plans for the next few months. They will invite top legal authorities, including the chief judge, state attorney and public defender.

They also want to interview lower-level jail employees and to invite other organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Council on American Islamic Relations and the NAACP to join the discussions.

Sheriff David Gee issued a statement Friday commending their work. A spokeswoman said the sheriff had no further comment.

Col. David Parrish, who is in charge of the county’s jail system, said the commissioners spent the initial weeks getting familiar with the jails.

"There were not any real surprises in there," he said. "They’ve had to lay the groundwork for further work."

He endorsed their suggestion for more training and support for deputies who work in Central Booking.

"It certainly makes good sense to have as broad a base as possible for people there to have," Parrish said. "Any time we can better equip the people, that’s helpful."

Abbie VanSickle can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3373.