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Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree announces downtown Augusta policing unit

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Business owners are hopeful that a plan unveiled Thursday by Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree will change the perception of a dangerous downtown.

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Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree talks at Augusta Common about the creation of the new downtown safety team.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree talks at Augusta Common about the creation of the new downtown safety team.


Although he said he thinks Augusta’s downtown is no different from other cities its size, the president and CEO of the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau said anything that can be done to enhance a feeling of safety downtown will be a benefit.

“It’s a crucial component of making our city a better destination for visitors,” Barry White said.

The new Safety Management and Re­sponse Team Unit will be made up of certified deputies and community safety officers.

The community safety officers will not be certified and will not have arrest powers. They will be trained by law enforcement instructors to be the “eyes and ears” of downtown: to observe and report criminal or suspicious activities, aid in emergencies, prevent crime and assist with traffic control.

Dressed in fluorescent yellow shirts with reflectors, the community service officers won’t be difficult to spot. That’s the idea, Roundtree said as he delivered his speech at Augusta Common in front of the five new outfitted officers.

He hopes the highly visible officers will act as deterrents to crime.

The sheriff and Augusta Commission had been working on the vision for some time, Roundtree said, but were running into budget restrictions.

“I directed my staff to reallocate resources from all other divisions,” the sheriff said.

“We were also able to civilianize at least three nonlaw enforcement positions so we can get more production from the sheriff’s office without adding any money to our budget.”

As their training gets underway, the officers, who will work different shifts, are expected to be downtown on foot or on their various vehicles, including Segways, bicycles, golf carts, automobiles and Mule ATVs.

Cedric Johnson, the director of community affairs at Georgia Regents University, attended the briefing and said he was happy to see the sheriff taking a proactive approach to safety that he hoped would change the perception of downtown.

“GRU is interested in anything in downtown Augusta, especially when you’re talking about safety,” he said.

The university already organizes “Go Downtown” one Thursday each month to foster relationships among faculty, staff members, students and downtown businesses.

Ben Casella, the owner of Casella Eye Center on Broad Street, said he was pleased with the plan.

“I came down to see if this idea is as good as it sounds, and it appears to be,” he said.

Although the new unit was designed with downtown in mind, Roundtree said it can be used in other areas where Augusta is continuing to see growth.

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nocnoc
47167
Points
nocnoc 04/17/14 - 11:52 am
5
2
Whiskey for the Men and Beer for the horses

Because them Downtown boy's now them a Posse

I wish them success

Posse comitatus
a common-law or statute law authority of a county sheriff, to conscript able-bodied men to assist him in keeping the peace, or to pursue and arrest.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0_QSmxKJ8M

nocnoc
47167
Points
nocnoc 04/17/14 - 11:57 am
6
1
BTW:

My Hats off to Sheriff Roundtree and his Staff.

Suggestion:
Any plans of extending this to the South Side and Community Watch Groups in ARC?

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 04/17/14 - 12:18 pm
5
1
Downtown
Unpublished

When you're alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go... Downtown

Cameron Poe
1031
Points
Cameron Poe 04/17/14 - 01:22 pm
9
2
This is great news!

This is great news! Unfortunately perception is reality and the perception of downtown had become one of danger and crime. While, those of us who frequent it know this to not necessarily be the case, hopefully this will ease the minds of everyone else. There is absolutely no reason our city shouldn't be benefitting from the great river front and downtown area we have! Thanks to the sheriff for coming up with a plan that will hopefully be a success!

Side note: Am I the only one who has noticed the radio silence from a certain commenter who was recently called out by a local radio personality? I hope the commenter has not been bullied out of commenting. Very few on here bring the positivity that this city needs.

Riverman1
90437
Points
Riverman1 04/17/14 - 01:39 pm
5
2
Problems

As I've noted often, this Sheriff is innovative and just what Augusta needs as the demographics change. If we want to protect the golden goose of Augusta in all things, let's hope he can succeed. Now having said all that, these noncertified law enforcement folks with arrest powers could be a problem in many ways. Are any of them armed? What can they do, etc.? Insurance?

daviddunagan
343
Points
daviddunagan 04/17/14 - 07:17 pm
5
2
Community Safety Officers

The Sheriff stated this morning that the CSO's would assist deputies with arrests if needed. The deputy would make the actual arrest. To the average citizen or would be criminal it will be hard to tell the difference between the two. The CSO's are not carrying a weapon but their presence are a deterrent to the would be criminal as well as a comfort to the patrons. Also the Sheriff's Office can fund 3 CSO's compared to 1 deputy. I think this is as safe as we can make downtown. DD

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 04/17/14 - 04:24 pm
1
8
Another step

Another step in the direction of becoming a police state.

Riverman1
90437
Points
Riverman1 04/17/14 - 04:44 pm
2
1
DavidD, the article says they

DavidD, the article says they have arrest powers. Not saying you are wrong, but it does say that.

Riverman1
90437
Points
Riverman1 04/17/14 - 04:45 pm
3
2
So Barry White thinks this is

So Barry White thinks this is a good idea? How does Countyman feel?

SRD
469
Points
SRD 04/17/14 - 04:49 pm
4
1
This is great news

I was there and very pleased with the news. No more funds needed for this! More safety! And just to clarify, Roundtree said that the civilian patrol person would be paired with a police officer who can make an arrest. Also, these Smart units will not replace existing officers on duty but supplement them, so more visible police means more deterrence, and safety. Just remember though if you decide to imbibe you better have a DD.

csraguy
2358
Points
csraguy 04/17/14 - 05:35 pm
3
1
Riverman

The article should read: They will not be certified nor have arrest powers (only granted to certified officers through POST) but they will be the eyes and ears for the agency, speaking with business owners to find solutions to problems, know the problem areas, persons, etc. and keep the certified officers informed.

happychimer
19392
Points
happychimer 04/17/14 - 05:58 pm
1
7
Yes they will be able to arrest.

The community safety officers will not be certified but will have arrest powers

countyman
21299
Points
countyman 04/17/14 - 06:40 pm
6
5
CBD

The CBD is the metro's best chance to attract large corporations and white collar office jobs.

csraguy
2358
Points
csraguy 04/17/14 - 06:46 pm
6
1
HappyChimer

I am sure the chronicle will correct this but by state law you MUST be certified in order to have arrest powers. I see a retraction forthcoming and if you watch channel 6 you will hear what the Sheriff actually said.

Mike Rosier
154
Points
Mike Rosier 04/17/14 - 07:02 pm
4
0
Correct ..

CSRAGUY you are correct .. we have made the change in our online story .. thank you for reading ..

Gage Creed
18817
Points
Gage Creed 04/17/14 - 09:05 pm
5
0
Cyber Command

But I thought Fort Gordon's Cyber Command was our best chance to attract white collar office jobs?

KSL
140073
Points
KSL 04/18/14 - 01:33 am
2
2
Don't citizens still have

Don't citizens still have arrest powers?

corgimom
36666
Points
corgimom 04/18/14 - 05:32 am
2
3
A citizen can make a

A citizen can make a citizen's arrest, but they can also be sued for false arrest, so it's not a good idea.

nocnoc
47167
Points
nocnoc 04/18/14 - 07:17 am
6
1
Citizens Arrest in GA - OCGA 17-4-60

Title 17, Chapter 4, Section 60 (17-4-60)

A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge. If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a private person may arrest him upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.

So, being a Drunk and disorderly on the sidewalk is NOT a valid citizens arrest.

While Aggravated Assault would be and detaining a person from self injury, or for the safety of others is valid also. eg. An obvious drunk with car keys getting ready to drive home.

http://www.lawskills.com/code/ga/17/4/60/index.html

BTW:
Georgia law (15-10-110 through 116 O.C.G.A.) still allows for the appointment of constables. An the South Side sure could use a few.

lgr
240
Points
lgr 04/18/14 - 07:31 am
4
0
citizens arrest

i take it that none of you ever watched Andy Griffith. CITIZENS ARREST CITIZENS ARREST Gomer said to barney

Little Lamb
47947
Points
Little Lamb 04/18/14 - 07:53 am
2
0
Coinage

Sure, languages must evolve; but I still hate to see people take a noun and turn it into a verb:

“We were also able to civilianize at least three nonlaw enforcement positions so we can get more production from the sheriff’s office without adding any money to our budget.”

I'm also not too keen on creating this new word “nonlaw.” I hope each of these two words stays out of the dictionary.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Oooooops, too late. I just checked the dictionary and civilianize is in there already. Still, it's a shame to me.

seenitB4
93608
Points
seenitB4 04/18/14 - 08:04 am
2
1
Llamb

Thank you for trying to keep us straight..♥

KSL
140073
Points
KSL 04/18/14 - 08:13 am
1
1
LL

You and my mother. She adds the grammar of the newscasters.

dsterling9
1175
Points
dsterling9 04/18/14 - 09:03 am
3
0
DOWNTOWN

Downtown, downtown, downtown...so sick of hearing it. The merchants and citizens downtown can make a complaint to law enforcement at any time. Followup might be sketchy but they have the same avenue as the rest of us living in ARC. There should be a continuous patrol by the Sheriff's office...not a civilian force with only the power to take reports.

Remember ARC consists of a lot more than DOWNTOWN!

janderson1945
1903
Points
janderson1945 04/18/14 - 09:25 am
5
1
Downtown Merchants

Downtown deserves to be covered by police just like the rest of the county. These business owners are no different than the mall or large shopping centers where they must hire their own security and pay for the deputies as well. Downtown should be safe but extra security or safety officers or whatever you want to call them should be funded by the merchants not the taxpayers.

oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 04/18/14 - 02:15 pm
0
0
Dumbest idea yet
Unpublished

Bicycles, golf carts, segways and fourwheelers. None of these belong on a public road. Criminals are already laughing their butts off thinking of Barney and his motorcycle with sidecar. When these idiots cause wrecks by screwing up traffic I will say I told you so. Put these eyes and ears on foot with a radio.

Brad Owens
4859
Points
Brad Owens 04/18/14 - 10:09 pm
0
0
Hmmmmm

This sure sounds familiar to me...

itsanotherday1
46859
Points
itsanotherday1 04/18/14 - 10:34 pm
0
0
janderson

I disagree. The "city" is the heart of the area and as it goes, so does the rest of the county, and surrounding areas to an extent. It is in everyone's interest for "the city" to be prosperous and safe. People perceive that it is not, with some justification. That image needs to be transformed.

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