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First Citizen's Police Academy class graduates

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 10:01 PM
Last updated Wednesday, May 22, 2013 12:48 AM
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For 12 weeks, a handful of Richmond County residents participated in a first-of-its-kind program for Augusta.

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Ernest Muhammad (right) shakes hands with Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree as he goes up to receive his certificate at the Citizen's Police Academy graduation. Mayor Deke Copenhaver (second from right) was the guest speaker.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Ernest Muhammad (right) shakes hands with Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree as he goes up to receive his certificate at the Citizen's Police Academy graduation. Mayor Deke Copenhaver (second from right) was the guest speaker.

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.

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fedex227 05/22/13 - 12:15 am
Hats off!!

My only hope is that this program is just the beginning of establishing a county-wide citizen safety force, made up of those who want nothing more than to provide a safe environment for the members of their community. Speaking from experience - ask any NYC police officer how they feel about the NYPD's auxilary force - almost 5000 strong - and they'll tell you they provide an invaluable and vital service to the city. There's no downside to programs like these. Well done Richmond County.

daviddunagan 05/22/13 - 07:13 am
Fedex-you are exactly right

That's what I'm pushing for. We have to do something because everyone agrees that the Sheriff's Dept. cannot be everywhere all the time. Google- "Citizens on Patrol, C.O.P.S. Waynesboro, Ga." This is a program that I am pushing for here that has been successful nationwide. Hats off to the Sherriff and his Department! DD

Little Old Lady
Little Old Lady 05/22/13 - 09:26 am
Great Job Tree

This is an excellent addition to our law enforcement eyes and ears on the streets. Good Job, Sheriff. The "Colonel" would be proud of you for implementing this program.

overburdened_taxpayer 05/22/13 - 09:04 pm
This program

works well in Columbia County. Glad to see that Richmond County has finally followed suit.

Horizon5521 05/22/13 - 11:37 pm
Citizens Police Academy

I am glad that Richmond County Sheriff's Dept. finally introduced a program that will give the citizens some insight as to what our deputy warriors of our streets go through. People can gripe and complain, but nothing is going to get done unless they realize that crime and violence in our communities are just as much our problem as that of our LEO's on the street. If the citizens don't get involved and become proactive in what we don't want in our communities, then we are opening the door to every type of problem that can degrade and destroy communities here in Richmond County, GA. The criminal element needs to knw that they are not wanted an will not be tolerated in our communities and around our children. We ask our deputies to put their lives on the line for us, when we want even stand up to help them with what they need to do their job effectively and we should beat their side as a community in affirmation that crime will not be tolerated an are willing to fight with our LEO's to take back what is ours. Just by sheer numbers can communities along side of their Sheriff and His LEO's do the impossible, as the strength of any department is by overwhelming numbers. We shoul put fear in the criminals face, instead of allowing them to put fear in our communities crippling us and imprisoning us to inside our homes at night until morning. I would like to know that our communities are safe for our children and grandchildren to play without danger around every corner.
We need VIPS and Citizens on Patrol like many other communities have which bolster the numbers of staff that can assist their Sheriff and His LEO's with meager budget rstraints, hiring freezes of sufficient LEO's and training, plus much needed equipment to assist our Deputies do their jobs more effectively and safer. They have a Right to go home after shift and should know that thi communities are their standing along side of them to insure that does happen. Our LEO's for even, should be two man teams, for effectiveness and Officer safety even if they have to extend their Reserve Deputy Status to offer more manpower. This is my belief, that it must start in the communities before Richmond County can be a place that is safer because the citizens have become smarter. I would volunteer my time, and if training could be given, I would also become a Reserve Deputy to assist our warriors that work our streets. They need us as muchas we need them...

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