Nine of the new Richmond County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputies took an oath in front of Probate Judge Harry James at the courthouse Thursday and say they’re ready to roll.
Lt. Lewis Blanchard said he hopes to have at least half of the officers available for June’s First Friday celebration downtown.
“I’m very excited to get out there and be on the road,” Ashley Syria said after the ceremony.
Syria just graduated from the police academy and had several interviews but said she kept running into “we’re not hiring.”
After hearing about the new program, she jumped at the opportunity to use her skills, even if it is for free.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” she said. “If I’m not going to get a job, at least I can get out there and help the community.”
The reserve deputy program has been a work in progress for years. All deputies will be armed, have full authority including arrest powers and have to meet the same requirements of any other deputy. The
only difference is that they will be volunteering their time.
The deputies are required to work at least 20 hours a month or 60 hours per quarter.
One deputy could not be sworn in Thursday and will return at a later date.
The reservists still have a few more steps to complete, including being fit for uniforms and firearms qualifying.
Marcial Rodriguez, who works during the day as a Spanish teacher at the Academy of Richmond County, said he’s excited to get back on the streets. Rodriguez, like many of the reservists, worked as a deputy for years before leaving because of the low pay.
“I’ve still got it in me,” he said.
Sheriff Richard Roundtree attended the swearing-in and said reserves are something the county has been “starving for” for a long time.
“History has always told us there’s nothing greater than the heart of a volunteer,” Roundtree said.