Peebles, 40, who officially announced his campaign Monday to succeed retiring Sheriff Ronnie Strength, said his plan will require retraining deputies to help them become more proactive, rather than reactive, in the community.
In a news conference on the steps of the Augusta-Richmond County Judicial Center and John H. Ruffin Jr. Courthouse, he also vowed to target the nuisance crimes that have sent the message that nobody, including police, cares about certain areas of the county.
So far, Peebles, who directs the sheriff’s office’s Criminal Investigation Division, is the only person to hold a news conference to announce a run for sheriff. His announcement came after Strength said Friday that he would not seek re-election.
Richmond County school Safety Lt. Richard Roundtree, a former sheriff’s investigator, recently announced on his Facebook page that he is a candidate. Strength’s brother-in-law, sheriff’s Lt. Robbie Silas, has also expressed interest.
Peebles, who has worked at the sheriff’s office since he was 19, said that the thought of stepping into Strength’s shoes is “terrifying” but that he is confident he would move the county in the right direction.
Strength recently listed operations Augusta Ink, Fox Hunt and Smoke Screen – all of which were designed and executed by Peebles and his team – as some of the highlights of his career.
“This agency has to move forward as it has been doing, and I don’t believe there are any other candidates who can take this agency in the direction it needs to go,” Peebles said after the announcement.
During his announcement Friday, Strength said that too often the position took him away from his family.
Peebles, who is already familiar with the long nights, missed holidays and endless phone calls, said although that is a concern, his family members decided together that this is the right move not only for them but also for all of Augusta.
“I’m as happy as I’ve ever been in my personal life, and I know this is going to put a huge strain on our family,” he said.
The Augusta native and his wife, Mandi, wed in December, and he has two daughters, ages 10 and 11.
Mandi Peebles said she is not concerned about the job taking her husband away.
“He’s always been very dedicated,” she said. “I’ll be right along with him.”
Richmond County sheriff’s policy says Peebles will have to take a leave of absence from his current position if he qualifies to run for sheriff in May.
He anticipates taking leave before May, but he has not decided when.