Getting to know Hillsborough County's Colonel Jim Previtera with this week's '10 questions'

TAMPA - Are you ever curious about the real lives of politicians, celebrities, local newsmakers and athletes? Who are their mentors and who would they really like to meet?

Each Tuesday, ABC Action News asks 10 questions of a Bay area leader or celebrity. They're fun questions that let you get to know the person.

This week we hear from Colonel Jim Previtera with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office.

Colonel Previtera is often in the headlines. I have interviewed him on numerous occasions and I am always impressed with his professionalism and command of his position.

Expect to see a lot more coverage involving the Colonel during the Republican National Convention. In fact, I was having a conversation with a law enforcement source and we were discussing potential protesters.

The source said, "Don't worry. Previtera has the jail situation under control. He has a system in place that should make everyone feel pretty secure."

I felt that was a pretty comforting statement for our community.

The Colonel joined the Sheriff's Office in 2005 and took over the Department of Detention  in 2008.

Colonel Previtera has quite a resume. He served as a Special Agent with the United States Secret Service. His duties during the time included serving as a member of the Vice Presidential Protection Division.

But, he began his career in law enforcement in 1986. He started with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. During his 11 years with the PSCO his duties spanned working on patrol, as a narcotics detective, school resource officer, and also with the Special Operations Division as the SWAT Team Liaison.

In addition, Colonel Previtera goes beyond working in law enforcement-he also teaches. He taught for the Southeastern Public Safety Institute, the Multi-Jurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force and the Florida Sheriffs Association Task Force.

But if you ask the Colonel, his greatest accomplishment is being a father to his four children.

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1. What is your favorite movie or song?
My favorite song is "Nobody Knows" by Billy Squier (remember him?). Favorite Movie - "We Were Soldiers."

2. Do you have a Smartphone? If so, what's your favorite app?
 I have an iPhone and Sayfie Review is the app I use most frequently. It provides news clips from all around Florida.

3. Who do you count as your mentor(s)?
That's a tough one! I have been fortunate to receive tremendous support and advice from many great people throughout my career. Obviously Sheriff Gee and Chief Deputy Jose Docobo have provided me with valuable guidance over the past seven years - I have a great deal of respect for both men. There are also people who molded me in the early years who I owe a tremendous debt. Jim Labonte and Frank Davis both supervised me during critical years of my career and helped me realize my potential and direction. I have been very fortunate!

4. What was your very first job?
I am not sure exactly how old I was, but I worked at a produce stand near my house filling bags with potting soil. The owner would have a truck dump the dirt in a pile and then pay me a nickel for every bag I filled by shovel. Twenty quickly became my favorite number! (I don't think  child labor laws were a big deal in the 70's).

5. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
Patience. I need to continue to work on accepting the realization that there are simply things I cannot change and demonstrating the courage to change those which I can.

6. What do you consider your greatest success?
My children. I have four unique and amazing kids who make me smile and give me my greatest feelings of pride. My daughter is one of the most compassionate people I know and people constantly tell me how wonderful my sons are!

7. Tell us something about you most people don't know?
 People are surprised the learn that I love to cook and housecleaning doesn't scare me. I get excited when I come up with a new dish and people like it - especially the kids!

8. If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would they be?
Just three? I think it would be Ronald Reagan, Mother Theresa and Meriwether Lewis (Lewis and Clark). There are so many questions I would like to ask Reagan. There is so much I could learn about compassion and humanity from Mother Theresa. And Lewis and Clark have always fascinated me - I think he could teach me a few things about leadership and courage!

9. What is in your fridge right now?
(Always) Diet Mountain Dew (it's my one vice), bottled water, lime-mango pie (you have to try it), leftover homemade pizza, and a bottle of Trefethen Vineyards Pinot Noir.

10. If you could have a different career, other then what you're doing now, what would it be?
In high school I thought I wanted to be a journalist - I actually wrote for a local paper as a free lancer. I think I would want to be a writer and tell the stories of others. It's a shame that newspapers are fighting to survive in the Internet age!

A quick

note, last week I featured Hillsborough County Property Appraiser who is up for re-election. I reached out to his opponent State Senator Ronda Storms to also take part in 10 questions, but she told me she regretfully could not participate.

The two face off in the primary on August the 14th.

If you would like to suggest someone for 10 questions you can e-mail me at or "like" me on Facebook. To do that just head to ... and find me under the favorites tab and click the "like" button.

I look forward to hearing from you!

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