For 12 weeks, a handful of Richmond County residents participated in a first-of-its-kind program for Augusta.
On Tuesday, they became the first graduating class of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Citizen’s Police Academy.
“It was an eye opener in so many areas and in so many things,” said Sammie Sias on his time with the academy. “What we learned in this class will empower us to come back from the community with good information for the sheriff, and for our city officials and for our citizens.”
Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver, the guest speaker for the graduation ceremony at The Foundation Club on Azalea Drive, applauded the efforts of the academy.
“Keeping our city safe is not all the sheriff’s job, it’s not all the mayor’s job, it’s all of our jobs,” he said. “With a program like this, as we continue to engage in citizenry, that’s going to lead to a safer city.”
The program, which aims to provide residents with a better understanding of the structure and methods of their law enforcement agency, allowed participants to take part in classes similar to the ones held at police academies. Over the 12-week period, students spent time with each division of the sheriff’s office, even devoting time to learning traffic and gun safety.
“We tailored (the program) strictly for Richmond County,” Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said. “We have the largest full-service sheriff’s office in Georgia, so we modeled it so that the participants can see everything that sheriff’s office does.”
Some of the graduates will go on to serve on the first Citizen’s Advisory Board. The board will meet once a month and provide community feedback on policy changes.
Roundtree said he expects the next class to train 20 people, up from the 15 who participated this time. Classes will be 12 weeks long, taking place three times a year.