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Richard Roundtree reflects on first year as Richmond County sheriff

Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 5:52 PM
Last updated Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013 12:15 AM
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Richmond County Sheriff Rich­ard Roundtree began his first year with 10 goals he wanted to accomplish by the end of his first term in office.

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Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree created a Citizens Advisory Board and a gang task force this year.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree created a Citizens Advisory Board and a gang task force this year.


He keeps a copy of those goals on a piece of paper titled “My Covenant With The Community” in his office at 400 Walton Way, and seven of them have been marked through with a yellow highlighter.

“I told my team at the beginning of the year that we want to look back at those goals and say it wasn’t luck or anything else, and that it was effort that caused them to come into fruition,” Roundtree said.

Since taking over as sheriff in January, Roundtree said he has kept true to his promise of engaging the community, something he felt wasn’t accomplished in prior administrations.

At the top of his of goals was creating a Citizens Advi­sory Board, a collection of residents from each district appointed by Au­gus­ta Com­mis­sion members. The board meets once a month to provide feedback on policy changes at the department.

The board was formed in May after the sheriff’s office honored the first graduates of its Citizens Police Aca­demy, which was second on Roundtree’s list.

“When the citizens know how the sheriff’s office is operating, they can better communicate with the people inside the sheriff’s office,” board member and Citizens Po­lice Academy graduate L.A. Green Sr. said last month.

Also marked off the list were Roundtree’s goals of creating an “advanced intelligence program” and a gang task force.

In a town hall-style meeting last month, Roundtree bluntly told residents that Rich­mond County has a gang problem, and that he expects to alleviate it by reaching out to youths before they
fall into the cycle of gang activity.

That can be done, he said, through collaboration with the district attorney’s office and the Richmond County school system, two goals that have also been marked off the list.

In an Oct. 14 meeting announcing the changes to come in the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, Roundtree sat alongside District Attor­ney Ashley Wright and suggested alternatives to incarcerating juveniles.

“I recognize that incarceration is not always the answer and tends to indoctrinate young men into the criminal culture,” his campaign letter reads.

Among the three goals yet to be accomplished is Roundtree’s vision of running a fully accredited agency, something he said could happen at the state level by summer 2014.

“Everybody can say, ‘I’ve got the best agency,’” Round­tree said. “Why not bring in someone to assess it? That’s what we welcome because we want to be the premier agency in Georgia. That’s our goal. But we’ve got to have standards to go by.”

Roundtree doesn’t want to stop there. By the end of his first term in 2016, he expects his agency to earn national accreditation.

The remaining uncompleted goals involve introducing new technology to improve the accountability of the department.

One way to accomplish that is through the purchase of new equipment, such as the body cameras the department has been testing
since August, Roundtree said.

But budget restraints have prevented the department from purchasing cameras, which range from $400 to $500 each.

A study found that 85 percent of law enforcement officers say these cameras reduce false claims of misconduct and the likelihood of litigation, Lt. Lewis Blanchard said recently.

“I want to see (the deputies) in action,” Roundtree said. “We don’t have to hide our work. It helps the officer and it helps the citizen, and it lets everyone know that we’re transparent.”

Almost a year after he was sworn in, and despite more than 20 years of law enforcement experience, Roundtree acknowledges that
he is still growing into the job.

“It’s tough at times because you come to the realization that you’re always the sheriff,” he said. “You don’t stop being sheriff at
5 o’clock. You don’t get vacation time. You don’t get sick time. It’s a little overwhelming at times.”

That challenge, Roundtree said, is one he welcomes.

“No matter what the burden of this office brings, the amount of people I’ve been able to help over the year is one part of the job that I can’t even fathom,” he said. “Anytime I get down, I think about the good that I can do from this seat. A year ago, I couldn’t have done that. Now I have the ability to sit in this chair and literally change lives.”

HOW HE FARED

Sheriff Richard Roundtree set 10 goals for his first term at the helm.

ACCOMPLISHED IN FIRST YEAR

• Appoint a Citizens Advisory Board that will assist in assessing the sheriff’s office to ensure integrity, effectiveness and efficiency of the department.

• Establish a volunteer services bureau that will partner with county residents to create resources to address law enforcement and security needs. These include the Citizens Public Safety Academy (Citizens Police Academy), Sheriff’s Posse, Police Reserves, Community Emergency Response Teams and Police Explorers.

• Establish a comprehensive community policing program that creates a culture of proactive, problem-solving and results-oriented policing.

• Establish a comprehensive gang task force that will concentrate not only on enforcement issues, but will also focus on prevention, education, mentoring, mediation and intervention. This will also involve extensive collaboration with other government, community and nonprofit agencies.

• Establish an Advanced Intelligence Program that uses administrative, tactical and strategic intelligence to focus resources so that the sheriff’s office performs more effectively and efficiently.

• Collaborate with the district attorney’s office and the courts to expand alternative programs to incarceration such as the drug court program.

• Collaborate with the Richmond County school system to establish a joint program to increase the education of children and at the same time reduce crime in the Augusta area.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

• Ensure more accountability from the sheriff’s office. Every complaint will be reviewed. Policies will be implemented to ensure that officers exhibit professional conduct, such as the issuance of personal body cameras to patrol officers and investigators alike. These cameras will help to record the actions of citizens and deputies alike.

• Use the latest technologies such as surveillance cameras and facial recognition and vehicle identification software, which will greatly assist the department in exonerating the innocent and arresting criminals. Such technology will reduce the need for manpower, which is the greatest law enforcement expense.

• Initiate accreditation and certification for the sheriff’s office as a law enforcement agency to ensure that department policies and procedures are updated and use the “best practices” within the law enforcement community. This accreditation and certification will include all sheriff’s office operations.

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Stunned 2
6256
Points
Stunned 2 12/21/13 - 08:10 pm
5
10
I wonder if he going to throw himself another big shin-dig-cotil

I wonder if he going to throw himself another big shin-dig/cotillion - with all the photographers for his anniversity...

nocnoc
49121
Points
nocnoc 12/21/13 - 08:29 pm
14
4
I was one of his biggests nay sayers

But he has RCSO working and running pretty smoothly.
May his next few years be as smooth.

BTW:
Stop the Operation Paper checkpoints of the 98+% that are normal citizens headed home, to work or shop.

If the goal is really to catch DUI's, then set up Traffic
Check points where the drunks fill up, the Bars

happychimer
19504
Points
happychimer 12/21/13 - 08:25 pm
7
8
He is going to have that

He is going to have that shin-dig as you call it. Proceeds go to charities.

nocnoc
49121
Points
nocnoc 12/21/13 - 09:15 pm
5
4
Wonder if he is going to have

Operation Rolling Thunder underway the night of his 1 year party.
All ribbing aside,

Maybe setting a Courtesy Breath Test system at the party to avoid any negative press potential?

Riverman1
93314
Points
Riverman1 12/21/13 - 10:02 pm
11
4
Excellent Work

He has done an excellent job with his proactive administration. Ronnie Strength was a granite statue, but he was out of place down in the neighborhoods getting to know the people. The RCSO has changed for the better and stopped the entropy.

Riverman1
93314
Points
Riverman1 12/21/13 - 10:41 pm
13
3
Another beneficial implementation

Another beneficial implementation that wasn't even a goal is the improved communications with the press instead of the haphazard way everyone in the department used to give information to the press. It's a much more reliable and effective method for releasing information to the public.

GnipGnop
12744
Points
GnipGnop 12/21/13 - 10:59 pm
8
4
He has done a great job...

Just wish he would work on his arrogant attitude toward regular people. Some of his remarks to question askers in the jail report make him seem very arrogant. Other than that my hat's off to him.

daviddunagan
343
Points
daviddunagan 12/22/13 - 07:54 am
11
2
The 2013 stats are good and ....

more innovative ideas are being implemented in 2014. One being that every citizen will soon have a "zone manager" that he or she will be able to communicate with regarding specific concerns in their neighborhood. The Sheriff has surrounded himself with good people and the results continue to be impressive. Stay tuned, more good things are coming. David Dunagan, Sheriff's Citizens Advisory Board Member & Citizens Police Academy.

SemperParatus
3225
Points
SemperParatus 12/22/13 - 01:02 am
5
1
Public information

Riverman1, tell me more about the more reliable and effective method for releasing information to the public as evidenced above!

SemperParatus
3225
Points
SemperParatus 12/22/13 - 01:06 am
9
2
Another cost savings idea

As the sheriff and his chief deputy both came from the Richmond County Board of Education Police Department and know the department from top to bottom, wouldn't it make sense to merge the School Board's police department with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office? Bigger isn't always better but surely some substantial cost savings could result from such a move.

my.voice
5159
Points
my.voice 12/22/13 - 01:50 am
9
1
I think rolling thunder was a

I think rolling thunder was a governors initiative, nothing wrong with enforcing some traffic safety for a change. Seems to me the man is doing the job he was elected for. Let's get behind him and support his efforts.

paladin5
311
Points
paladin5 12/22/13 - 02:16 am
9
2
GOOD STUFF.....

The amount of change in this LE Agency deserves recognition. The amount of change is commendable for just one year.

The Old Saying, "Lead, Follow, or Get the H*** Out of the Way" seems appropriate. Those who just sit on the sidelines looking for something to criticize don't help usually.

rational thought trumps emotion
2674
Points
rational thought trumps emotion 12/22/13 - 03:41 am
8
1
Excellent Job

Sheriff Roundtree has shown excellent leadership qualities, implemented community policing within the agency and is doing a great job for Augusta. Violent Crime, burglaries, car accidents and fatalities have all been greatly reduced this year due to the many changes he implemented without any new personnel, even though he does need more men back from when the commission cut over 40 positions just over 2 years ago.

The Sheriff's Deputies are long overdue for a pay increase as this is one of the lowest paid agencies around and the Commission should have supported Sheriff Roundtree's request in this area. With all of the good the men and women of the agency have accomplished under the new leadership, they should be paid fair salaries. No raises in over 5 years combined with increases in insurance expense does not even begin to make sense.

Kudos to the Sheriff for doing a great job and for asking for new equipment and for the raises that are very much needed.

Swatbad
448
Points
Swatbad 12/22/13 - 03:48 am
6
1
RCSO is a great looking organization.

RCSO is a great looking and highly functional organization. It’s very obvious that the RCSO has been modernized and is constantly making needed improvements. It also appears that the departments morale is at an all time high. Considering the way that the Sheriff was bashed on the site last year during the election cycle and the post election it really great to see him rise above the expectations of the naysayers and prophets of doom.

seenitB4
97010
Points
seenitB4 12/22/13 - 09:23 am
4
4
Good job Tree

I like your spokesperson Mr McDaniel too....keep it going...

fishman960
1504
Points
fishman960 12/22/13 - 11:20 am
5
1
Tree

I was also one that was very vocal against Roundtree. After a year on the job, he hasn't screwed up like I thought he would.
Congratulations Richard!
I hope you continue to progress into your term with positive results like your first year.

tckr1983
365
Points
tckr1983 12/22/13 - 11:25 am
4
4
Anyone that says the morale

Anyone that says the morale is at an all-time high with the department... Has no idea what they're talking about... 9 deputies quit the other week because of float days being yanked out from underneath them. More work, same pay. Many are unhappy, but articles and photo ops like this are goid for PR and face-value... don't be fooled.

Travis Highfield
351
Points
Travis Highfield 12/22/13 - 12:17 pm
2
0
Send them my way...

I'd love to talk to the unhappy deputies, tckr1983.

Travis Highfield
351
Points
Travis Highfield 12/22/13 - 12:17 pm
1
0
Send them my way...

I'd love to talk to the unhappy deputies, tckr1983.

Sweet son
11513
Points
Sweet son 12/22/13 - 12:56 pm
6
2
The idea of the gang task force and it's components which

included the Sheriff's Office, the School Board and the District Attorney is good. I believe it is missing one element and that would be including and challenging parents to be proactive in the rearing of the youth. We all know that most of the juvenile gang members come from 'homes' where there is no supervision.

Hope Roundtree sees my comment and attempts to reach the youthful offenders by working to better their 'home' environments. If you are not taught right from wrong and live in a world that is devoid of this principle then we can't expect anything but more youth who 'fall into the cracks.'

tckr1983
365
Points
tckr1983 12/22/13 - 02:17 pm
1
4
Travis... You're the

Travis... You're the reporter, ask him the tough questions. But you know if you did that, there'd be no more articles like this in the future with Roundtree. I'm not against everything Roundtree has done at all, some things have worked... But morale and relationship with the local press is touch n go at best.

Sweet son
11513
Points
Sweet son 12/22/13 - 08:38 pm
3
0
Sorry if two didn't agree with my comment regarding the

family situation of these youths but it is the root of all of their/our problems. I want every young person to succeed but if they have no parenting to teach them right from wrong then they will fail.

Riverman1
93314
Points
Riverman1 12/23/13 - 05:08 am
0
0
Tckr1983, it appears you want

Tckr1983, it appears you want the reporter to prove YOUR assertion.

tckr1983
365
Points
tckr1983 12/23/13 - 10:03 am
0
0
Riverman... It's not an

Riverman... It's not an assertion that recently 9 deputies have quit, that is reality for 9 Augusta families. They're fed up and I don't blame them.

Riverman1
93314
Points
Riverman1 12/23/13 - 11:22 am
0
0
Tckr1983

Tckr, as you know, road deputies work 12 hour shifts. One week they work M/Tu/F/Sa/Su. The next week they work W/Th. This totals 84 hours per pay period (26 pay checks per year). 14 days per month. Then they were given one float day per month WITH PAY. That puts them working only 13 days per month. Less than 1/2 a month.

Kind of hard to get the sympathy of the public/tax payers when you work less than 1/2 a month & get an extra day off each month with pay!

That would be like the average person working 39 hours per week but getting paid for 42 & then getting ticked off because their boss says they must work 40 hours & get paid for 40 hours!!!

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