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Move from old jail complete
Transfer of 500 inmates a tightly guarded drill
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For folks who saw a caravan of cop cars with flashing blue lights stopping traffic along the Queen City Parkway/Candler Road corridor this week: No, the president wasn’t in town.

Rather, it was part of the transfer of more than 500 inmates from the old Hall County jail to the new jail, which was completed Thursday night in an operation that was both high-alert and hush-hush.

For security reasons, local news media organizations, including The Times, granted the sheriff’s office request for a news blackout on the three-day operation until it was finished.

Moving prisoners the six-mile route from the old downtown jail to the new 1,026-bed facility on Barber Road involved a carefully planned drill that saw inmates shuttled 30 at a time on a bus, escorted by SWAT officers and an eight-car motorcade that included sheriff’s motorcycles. On at least one occasion, the transfer also involved a Georgia State Patrol helicopter.

About 100 inmates were moved Tuesday, another 200 on Wednesday, and the transfer of the last 200, including the highest-security inmates, was completed Thursday night.

Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic said the transfer went "smoothly, with very few problems."

The move involved eight months of planning and hundreds of sheriff’s employees. Cronic said the overwhelming show of force in the transfers was deemed necessary to keep inmates in line.

"We had the manpower on hand in the event that if anything did go wrong, we would have the resources necessary to keep the community safe," Cronic said. "The bottom line is we wanted to do this in a way that would keep the citizens safe from these individuals as we moved them."

"It certainly was a massive undertaking," Cronic said. "Everyone worked together and planned together for months and executed this plan to perfection."