Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. John Ivey, Lt. Robbie Silas, Capt. Scott Peebles, lawyer Freddie Sanders and school public safety Lt. Richard Roundtree all addressed a crowd of more than 100, presenting their ideas on what they would do if elected to replace Ronnie Strength. Strength is retiring after 11 years in office.
Republican candidate Michael Godowns, a former road deputy for the sheriff’s office, did not attend. The event was held at the Julian Smith Barbeque Pit on Milledge Road by Lake Olmstead. Each man offered why he should be voted into office.
Ivey said he saw his children grow up in Augusta only to leave and never return.
“I want to change that,” he said.
He also said he would put into action early-prevention programs based on discipline. He said there is a lack of “teeth” in Augusta’s schools that leads young people to not respect the law or law enforcement.
Community policing was the foundation of Peebles’ candidacy. He said there are some falsehoods about that form of law enforcement, including that it is easy on criminals.
“If someone tells you community policing is not hard on crime, they haven’t done their homework,” Peebles said.
Through community policing, he said, officers are held accountable for their beats, which pushes them to become more involved with the people who live in these neighborhoods. He would also create a community advisory board and push the department to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement, a national organization that sets standard operating procedures for police departments.
Roundtree said he would like to see people in the community work together, not against one another.
“Together, we can build a better community,” he said.
He said he would purchase the latest law enforcement technology, including facial recognition software. He said his experience with the Richmond County Board of Education puts him in a unique position to work with the schools.
“We need to promise less and deliver more,” he said.
Sanders said he doesn’t believe in community policing. He said the concept would require about “15,000 more police officers.”
“It’s a great concept, but I’m not behind it,” he said.
Instead, he said he would focus on putting criminals behind bars and getting two-man cars for deputies to make the job safer. He also would get out of the office.
“If you’re dissatisfied with your treatment by my department, I will come see you about it,” he said.
Silas focused on putting more road deputies on the street by eliminating some higher positions in the department. There were 40 fatal accidents last year and by increasing road patrol, he thinks that number will diminish.
“The budget is already set when we are sworn in,” he said. “So we have to make do with what we will have.”
He would also like to see the office bring back some of the youth programs cut in the last few years. Those will show deputies as people.
Richard Isdell, the president of Augusta-Richmond County Committee for Good Government, urged the crowd to vote in the primaries.
“We have six good contenders for sheriff,” he said. “It is very important all of you get out and voice your support in July.”