EDITOR’S NOTE: Since Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength announced that he will not seek re-election, four candidates have emerged: Lt. John Ivey, Capt. Scott Peebles, Lt. Richard Roundtree and Lt. Robbie Silas. Here, Silas answers questions about his candidacy.
Q: Why do you want to be sheriff?
A; It’s been a goal of mine ever since I thought about being in law enforcement. People look at the sheriff as a role model. They look at him as the top leader in the community. As bad as the racial divide is in our county, I believe that having a good sheriff at the top that we can bridge the gaps and get our community where it needs to be.
Q: You’ve been a road patrol officer your whole career, right?
A: I’ve always been in road patrol. I’ve been out there with the guys, day in and day out. I think knowing the community is knowing the streets and knowing the streets is knowing the job.
Q: Other candidates had mentioned moving the sheriff’s office toward a community policing model. How do you feel about that?
A: We basically do that now. Our folks are assigned to a beat. They have to work that neighborhood. They are taught to get in there and learn their business owners. We are already doing that, putting people on beats where they are in there day in and day out.
Q: What would you change about the sheriff’s office if elected?
A; Depending on who retires you could have $400,000 to $500,000 in salaries freed up. I would like to see that come back to gain more manpower out on the streets. Getting quality people to come on and work for this department is a challenge. That is our first line of defense. I would love to see more folks out there on patrol. You hear we had 27 murders, but what you don’t hear is that we had 40 people killed on our streets in traffic fatalities.
Q: Do you think the sheriff’s office should make more of an effort to recruit minority officers?
A: The door is open. The applications are here. I would love to see us get more women in the department. We are short on women. People can start in the jail and work their way up. I think that folks that start out in the jail learn to work with people and if you can put up with people in the jail, you can work with people in the street, because the ones in the jail don’t have a care to start with.
Q: Politics can get dirty. What do you expect out of this campaign?
A: I want to run a clean campaign. I don’t want to bash anybody. I just want to talk about the issues. There isn’t any bad blood between me and any of the other candidates and if I don’t win I want to come back and do the job I’m doing right now.
I think all of us probably have some good ideas and maybe between us four some good things will come out of it.