5 Questions: Sheriff Richard Roundtree on TV cop shows

Sheriff candidate Lt. Richard Roundtree Speaks to Chronicle staff Tuesday in Augusta. (Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff)

With the Cops television show in town to film with Richmond County deputies, we asked their boss and other top cops about their preferences when it comes to TV shows about their real-life jobs. Only Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree would own up to watching them, however.


His predecessor, Ronnie Strength, and Waynesboro Police Chief Augustus Palmer III said they just don’t like cop shows. Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle said he doesn’t watch TV of any kind very much, and Aiken County Sheriff Mike Hunt didn’t reply. Here are the five questions we asked Roundtree and his responses, edited for length:

Q: What’s your favorite TV police show?

A: “I’ve enjoyed some different shows over the years. Right now I would say Criminal Minds is my favorite. I like how the show gets into the mind of the criminal to show how it is on the other side, not just how we (the police) see things.” (Roundtree said he grew up watching The Rookies and SWAT.)

Q: What do cop shows get wrong?

A: “No one gets a DNA test back in an hour. That’s just unrealistic.

“Sometimes they’ll gather DNA from bushes, and it just doesn’t work like that. I’ve had people come to me before and say, ‘Can’t you just get DNA from the bushes in the front yard?’ and I have to tell them it doesn’t work that way.”

Q: What do they get right?

A: “(The newer series) show what it takes to build a case. They show what it takes to investigate a case. How to find witnesses, how witnesses sometimes recant statements and how the stress takes a toll on the investigators emotionally. When you see investigators struggle with family life and alcoholism, that’s real.”

Q: Who’s your favorite all-time cop character?

A: “I don’t have one.”

Q: What’s the most realistic show you’ve seen?

A: The Wire … (but) basically, cop shows are for entertainment. People want to see the action part. People don’t want to see the slow side, but those are real things that happen.”

– Travis Highfield, staff writer