A former Richmond County sheriff’s deputy is seeking to replace the man who fired him.
Brian McDuffie, who was terminated by current Sheriff Richard Roundtree in August 2013 on charges of assaulting a 15-year-old during an arrest, filed a Declaration of Intent to Accept Campaign Contributions last year and said Monday that, if elected, he would work to build community trust in the department through transparency.
“I’m running for sheriff of Richmond County to try to embrace unity and diversity in this community,” said McDuffie, who boasts more than a decade of law enforcement experience. “With that, I think law enforcement needs to change its procedures to have more oversight and be more transparent to the media.”
McDuffie’s law enforcement career began in 2001 with the Waynesboro (Ga.) Police Department, where he stayed for five years before becoming the chief of the Midville Police Department. He served a brief stint with the Sardis Police Department before joining the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office in 2008.
McDuffie, 36, left the sheriff’s office in 2011 to pursue a business opportunity but returned nine months later. He was fired after striking a juvenile in the side of the head with a flashlight while trying to handcuff him, something Roundtree called “unjustifiable” in his termination letter.
“I’ve always told people in reference to that firing that any officer that thinks they’ve done everything right, that’s the day to get out law enforcement,” McDuffie said. “There’s always room for improvement, and every time I look back I realize there are things I could have done different.”
Since his departure from the sheriff’s office, McDuffie has served as president of Law Enforcement Against Corruption Corp., an Augusta nonprofit that investigates complaints against public entities, and has worked at Sherwin-Williams.
According to the declaration of intent, McDuffie will run as a Republican. Despite a heavy Democratic presence in the county, McDuffie said, he believes his party affiliation won’t matter.
“I’ve actually gotten more donations from Democrats than I have Republicans,” he said. “I’m actually getting support from both sides.”
Should he win, McDuffie said, he will reallocate personnel to make better use of department funding and all information would come directly from the sheriff.
“The public shouldn’t have to deal with PIOs (public information officers), they should be dealing with the people they put in office,” he said. “One of the biggest things I will be creating is a citizens’ oversight committee. Not all of the positions would be picked by my command because that would make the committee biased.”
Shortly after being elected, Roundtree created the Citizens Advisory Board, which is made up of residents from each district appointed by Augusta Commission members and meets monthly.
Roundtree said Monday that he will seek re-election.
“I think we’ve had an outstanding three years in office, and we’re looking forward to another four,” he added.
Qualifying will take place March 7-11, with primaries to be held May 24, according to the Richmond County Board of Elections Web site. The general election will take place Nov. 8.