Orient Road Jail cleared out to handle RNC arrests

TAMPA - A big factor during the RNC is the potential for a large number of arrests.

In anticipation, in an unprecedented move, Hillsborough County jail officials announced one facility is completely cleared and essentially reconstructed just for the  Republican National Convention.

The man in charge, Colonel Jim Previtera, took charge as he walked us through the Orient Road Jail.

The colonel began in the carport, where, he said, "The inmates will be unloaded, they will be searched and walked through a metal detector which has been added for this event."

The entire facility has been transformed.  At around noon Wednesday, the last of the inmates, excluding a dozen or so trustees prepared to handle cooking and cleaning duties, were moved out to nearby Falkenburg Road Jail.

Anyone arrested during the RNC will be brought to Orient Road Jail.

"As you can see, everything here -- including the chairs -- are color coded to handle this process efficiently and thoroughly," said Previtera.

Officials have essentially created a temporary booking facility.

They are ready to handle a mass amount of inmates.  Previtera said the system can handle 1000 additional arrests.

"We'll take their fingerprints and photographs.  We'll also collect property," said Previtera. "There are three scenarios, inmates will either get bonded out, go before a judge who will be stationed at Falkenberg Road Jail with a video feed into Orient Road Jail, or they'll be released."

Officials have created a temporary courtroom, an entire work area for the public defender's office and the clerk of court.

They also had to have complete medical resources.  "We don't know what to expect. We couldn't call in 30 doctors and medical personnel at the last moment. So we are prepared with a staff that can handle the most serious cases," said Previtera.

In addition, there is a central command office.  "We will also have access to the Tampa Police incident command centers that will help us with transportation, including what's going in the streets, " said Previtera.

Prior to the tour, Previtera said this was 15 months in the making and everything has been thought through.  And that includes taking bad weather into consideration.

"From a jail standpoint, that has been part of the plan. You half-heartedly talk about it, but we live in Florida.  There are storms.  We can't call a time out.  So pending weather we are ready to transport inmates," said Previtera.

Multiple agencies will assist the jails.

Officials are confident they are ready.

The system will be up and running by Sunday 6 a.m.

Colonel Jim Previtera was also profiled in Sarina Fazan's 10 questions segment.  You can find that story at http://wfts.tv/PhPcK5 .

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