A longtime veteran of both the sheriff’s and city police departments officially joined the race to become Richmond County’s top cop on Friday.
Sheriff’s Lt. John Ivey, a 32-year veteran of the sheriff’s office and Augusta Police Department, said he is seeking the sheriff’s position to provide residents with a “safe, secure and fruitful community,” where “concerns are not only heard, but swiftly addressed with the best possible solutions and necessary resources.”
Ivey said he would unite residents and officers.
“I will not only influence and promote but demand an open dialogue between community and law enforcement officers,” he said. “This is the best way to effectively reduce crime, enhance safety and maintain order.”
Frank Thomas, a former director of the Augusta Human Relations Commission, said he attended the announcement in support of Ivey because he had committed to forming a citizens review board for the sheriff’s office if he is elected, something former Sheriff Charlie Webster resisted when Thomas first pushed it in the late 1990s and never was adopted by his successor, retiring Sheriff Ronnie Strength.
Thomas said Ivey is an old friend, but he wasn’t prepared to support any candidate who didn’t support a review board.
“If it wasn’t for his commitment to do that I wouldn’t be here,” Thomas said.
Ivey said he intends to do a better job recruiting minority officers to build a force more reflective of the community. He said the sheriff’s office doesn’t really attempt to recruit qualified minorities. Although he said he believes the force is staffed with well-qualified personnel, he thinks most of the recruiting is done through personal relationships with other officers.
Ben Ivey, a former investment banker now living in Washington, D.C, said he was in Augusta for a few days to help his father launch his campaign.
He said his father was considering retirement, but many friends and family members encouraged him to seek office instead. The family has a history of political involvement. Ivey’s wife, Colis Ivey, was an Augusta City Council member in the late 1990s.
Ben Ivey remembers working on those campaigns with his siblings as a young boy.
“We were staking out signs and doing everything,” he said. “We worked hard.”