Working traffic detail for nearly 14 hours a day during Masters Week makes any deputy’s belly rumble. This year, thanks to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Wives Auxiliary and the Deputy J.D. Paugh Memorial Foundation, deputies assigned to traffic posts along Washington Road and other thoroughfares have had their lunches prepared for them, continuing a tradition started by Paugh more than a decade ago.
Terra Garner, who spearheaded the project for the RCSO Wives Auxiliary, said Paugh started the Masters Week lunch for traffic detail deputies to address a problem that many of the officers faced.
“Some of those deputies work for (Augusta National Golf Club), however 45 to 50 of them are on the county’s dime,” she said. “The ones who are on the county’s dime, the National does not pay for their lunches. They can’t just break away and go sit in a restaurant, so they would have to bring their lunches and they would go bad and get hot.”
Paugh began collecting $25 from each deputy working traffic detail and took it upon himself to provide freshly cooked meals so they wouldn’t have to stray far from their assigned posts.
After Paugh was killed during a 2011 traffic stop, his family continued the tradition for one year. Unable to keep up support, deputies had to seek alternatives for the 2013 Masters Tournament.
Michael Cardenaz, cofounder of the Deputy J.D. Paugh Foundation, said he was approached by Garner earlier in the year with the idea of providing the deputies lunches for free. Though the foundation usually spends money toward the acquisition of equipment and the training of officers at local law enforcement agencies, Cardenaz said, he thought continuing the daily lunches was a the great way to memorialize Paugh.
“This is the perfect way to honor him,” said Cardenaz, who worked with Paugh on the traffic detail in his time with the sheriff’s office.
On Friday, the Paugh family was on hand to serve the deputies T-bone steaks with mashed potatoes and salad. Anita Paugh, J.D. Paugh’s mother, was teary-eyed as she looked over at the deputies eating at the pavilion at Eisenhower Park.
She said some of the deputies came to her to share their memories of her son, which filled her with pride.
“We’re just so grateful that we can do it and that people still remember J.D.,” she said. “That’s what means so much to us.”
Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Randy Prickett, who oversees the Masters Week detail, said it feels like Paugh never left.
“This is how it was back then,” he said. “It’s a way to relieve stress and get together to discuss problems. We all need that.”