Members of the newly formed citizens police academy gathered Tuesday at the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office administration building for their first meeting and tour of law enforcement facilities.
The first class will participate in a 12-week program, learning about each sheriff’s office division.
By the end of the program, participants will have the opportunity to visit and shoot firearms at the training range, ride along with road deputies, and participate in a mock crime scene analysis. They’ll also observe demonstrations from the bomb squad and SWAT team.
Roundtree advocated for the citizens police academy when he ran for office and said it was one of the first programs he wanted to implement as a way to “bridge the gap” between sheriff’s office personnel and citizens.
“Y’all are going to be my ambassadors,” he said. “Y’all are going to be the ones to say this is the direction that the sheriff’s office is going.”
The program is overseen by the sheriff’s Community Services Division. Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver and commission members each appointed a person to participate in the first academy.
Academy member Sammie Sias, who retired from the Army after 28 years, has served on neighborhood associations in Richmond County and said he wants to contribute his “neighborhood viewpoint.”
“I’m a firm believer if you don’t have a great neighborhood, you won’t have a great city,” said Sias, who was appointed by Augusta Commissioner Alvin Mason.
Roundtree said he wants to provide the group with the resources to improve the community.
“I could easily send 30 deputies into your neighborhood in 30 days and drop your crime rate, easily done,” he said. “It’s a temporary suppression of crime. What happens when I’ve got to pull those officers out and move them somewhere? What happens to your neighborhood then?”
Lenzell Ponder said he hopes to learn about the sheriff’s office and help build relationships between officers and the public.
“Anything for the betterment of the community, I’m a willing participant of,” said Ponder, who was appointed by Corey Johnson.