The ceremony was the fifth this week, said Sheriff-elect Richard Roundtree, who officially takes office Tuesday.
Richmond County’s more than 700 uniformed officers have to take an oath of office and be deputized every four years, said Patrick Clayton, Roundtree’s chief deputy. With that many personnel working various shifts around the county, it takes several mass ceremonies to do the job, Clayton said. He said the last mass ceremony of about 150 officers will be held Monday morning. Other arrangements will be necessary for any officers unable to attend, he said.
Newly elected Probate Judge Harry James administered the oath, reminding the officers that raising their hand and giving their word was a “sacred thing” not to be taken lightly.
He said a person’s word and their character is all that anyone can carry with them wherever they go.
“Once you give your word, it should be something to be relied on to the death,” James said. “Because in the end, that is all you have.”
Roundtree said that as in years past, Richmond County Board of Education officers and police from the cities of Hephzibah and Blythe were invited to take the oath, allowing them to act as sheriff’s deputies when necessary.
This is the first time, however, the invitation has been offered to campus police officers at Georgia Health Sciences and Augusta State universities, he said.
Clayton said campus police have to go to court to seek state warrants for many common misdemeanor violations such as criminal trespassing. Becoming sworn sheriff’s deputies allows them to issue citations or make arrests under county ordinances.
“It’s the difference between three hours in court or 30 minutes to write a citation,” he said.
Roundtree said he plans to work more closely with campus police and the other agencies in Richmond County that employ certified officers.
“They were thrilled to be asked,” he said. “It really expands your available manpower; it just makes sense.”