Richmond County sheriff candidates talk First Friday

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Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength said Wednesday at a forum on downtown crime that the July 6 shooting after First Friday festivities shouldn’t paint downtown or the festival as unsafe.



On Thursday, the six men hoping to replace the retiring sheriff offered their opinions.

Mike Godowns said First Friday should not be associated with the shooting of six on Broad Street because the violence took place after First Friday was over. “I don’t think they necessarily need to do away with it (First Friday) but the parties that be need to sit down and decide what they want to do with it.” Part of the answer falls in having more police presence on the streets of downtown. “We can always do more (to increase safety),” he said. “Downtown is adequate now.” Godowns said he believes the Downtown Development Authority could have used its money more wisely to put more officers on the streets during the event.

Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. John Ivey said he would see himself handling the controversy with First Friday similarly to Strength. “First Friday is not the problem,” he said. The problem, he believes, is the number of children breaking curfews. As sheriff, he would put more strict enforcement on keeping those children off the streets after curfew and increase patrols downtown. “First Friday is very safe and Augusta is very safe,” he said. The elements that start after First Friday is over are what is causing the perception that downtown is an unsafe place to be, he said.

Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Peebles said he has been working on a plan to increase safety along Broad Street that could alleviate some of the unease patrons are feeling after a shooting on First Friday in July.

“The city should be able to enjoy an event like that. I wouldn’t call an end to it.” Peebles said he is not ready to reveal his plans for downtown yet as he continues to tweak the details. There is a perception that downtown is unsafe, but Peebles said downtown is safe. “But people have to feel safe,” he said. He hopes his ideas will help reverse that perception.

Richmond Schools Public Safety Lt. Richard Roundtree said First Friday was merely a victim in a larger problem across the county. The answer, he said, is not in canceling First Friday, but in cracking down on gang violence and problems with the county’s youth.

“What happened at First Friday is actually a microcosm of a bigger problem,” he said. To increase safety across all areas, Roundtree said he would develop gang task forces and other youth development programs. To reverse the perception of downtown being unsafe, Roundtree would increase the number of visible and plainclothes officers on the streets.

Freddie Sanders said giving in to “punks and thugs” is not the answer.

“I wouldn’t let them intimidate me or keep me from downtown,” he said. As sheriff, Sanders said he would “flood downtown” with plainclothes officers. He said he wants the troublemakers to know that just because you don’t see someone in uniform doesn’t mean you aren’t being watched.

“I’m going to let the judge know that they’re causing trouble downtown and hope we can keep them off the streets for a very long time,” he said. Sanders realizes that the perception that downtown is unsafe could be just as detrimental as it actually being unsafe. As sheriff, he said he would encourage people to come downtown with the promise that he would increase safety. “Downtown is one of our best assets. If we can’t keep people coming downtown then we’re not sending a good message.”

Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Robbie Silas said First Friday lacks organization. Silas said he feels the shooting was “an isolated event” that should not keep the event from happening in the future.

If he were sheriff, he said he would urge business owners to decide if they want to go forward with the monthly event. If the answer were yes, Silas said he would work to put as many officers on the streets as the sheriff’s office could afford to keep the public safe.

“When incidents happen on the street, that is our responsibility as law enforcement, and when events are placed throughout the community, we need to know about them to make sure we have adequate law enforcement,” he said.

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Riverman1
90629
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Riverman1 07/19/12 - 03:02 pm
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1
Personally, I'd like to have

Personally, I'd like to have heard one of them say, "Shut er down."

Little Lamb
47979
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Little Lamb 07/19/12 - 03:10 pm
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Other

From the story:

Roundtree said he would develop gang task forces and other youth development programs.

Excuse me, but I do not consider a "gang task force" a youth development program. Instead, a "gang task force" is law enforcement personnel planning and working out strategies to lessen the presence and the impact of criminal gangs.

The moderator of the forum tonight needs to ask candidate Roundtree which existing programs will have to give up their budgets in order to fund his new "youth development program." Has he forgotten that it is the sheriff's job to track down criminals instead of setting up youth programs — programs that have no end.?

Riverman1
90629
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Riverman1 07/19/12 - 04:19 pm
3
3
I just heard something that I

I just heard something that I believe to be totally wrong. I wasn’t even going to go there with comments about who officers supported until I heard this blatant mistruth belittling Silas, especially. The comment was made if Peebles, the Obama supporter, is not elected sheriff many officers will leave the department. I can tell you to a man, the other Democratic candidates are united in being against Peebles.

I have also gotten close to many officers opposed to Peebles. There are a large number opposed to him and some have announced they will leave if Peebles is elected. Robbie Silas is not running for sheriff on his own, he is supported by an inspired group of officers. This is a team effort on their part.

John Ivey will get behind any candidate opposed to Peebles. Roundtree, although is now with the BOE will, too. Now if anyone doubts me, ask around.

HighSociety
1840
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HighSociety 12/21/12 - 03:52 pm
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3
R

.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/19/12 - 04:27 pm
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About Col. Powell, if there

About Col. Powell, if there is ANY danger of someone trying to replace him it is certainly not coming from any camp, but Peebles. That's exactly why he clarified he does not want to retire. Do your homework whoever brought it up.

movingtoaugusta
63
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movingtoaugusta 07/19/12 - 04:34 pm
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Try this...........

RCSO should create a website for people to to leave tips, photos of gang activity, photos of gang bangers and any information via E-mail for RCSO to use in a registry of gang members to track gang members. This same website could be used to publish a "Most Wanted" picture of gang members. Everyone has a cell phone with a camera, let's start using them.

HighSociety
1840
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HighSociety 07/19/12 - 04:44 pm
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RM, And who told you this was

RM, And who told you this was coming from the Peebles camp? Someone from another camp? I wouldn't fall for that trick.

Riverman1
90629
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Riverman1 07/19/12 - 05:01 pm
2
1
Questions For All Democrat Candidates Tonight

You say race shouldn't matter with this election and the reason given for running as a Democrat is because Richmond County is predominantly black and that's the only way you can win the election. Now how many of you became Democrats because of that? Isn't that admitting that race does matter and you are trying to appeal to black voters?

Riverman1
90629
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Riverman1 07/19/12 - 05:06 pm
2
0
Question for Peebles Tonight

You said on the radio you met with the Waynesboro officers BEFORE they gave you their bogus endorsement purporting to represent black officers in the area, state and nationally even though they were not even members of the group and hadn't polled anyone. Didn't you know the group wasn't allowed to give political endorsements and they were not authorized to act for the organization? You encouraged them anyway?

Newsflash
1925
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Newsflash 07/19/12 - 05:46 pm
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Roundtree...............

Roundtree needs to go into social work. He wants to start programs that waste time and resources. You cant change in a few meetings what mommy and daddy let go wrong for 18 years. We need aggressive open and honest law enforcement that upholds good citizens and puts the deadbeats and thugs on notice. I see all of the candidates except Roundtree wanting to do this at some level. Why do i envision him having group hugs and slumber parties trying to get little Johnny and Susie to put down their machine guns and just listen.....Let the churches preach and the Sheriff's Dept. keep us safe.

HighSociety
1840
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HighSociety 07/19/12 - 08:08 pm
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Newsflash, the group hug is

Newsflash, the group hug is funny!

Little Lamb
47979
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Little Lamb 07/20/12 - 10:59 am
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Agree

Thanks, Newsflash. Your post is right on target. Setting up after school programs for youth is no business for the sheriff department. They need to be spending their budget on law enforcement.

allhans
24520
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allhans 07/20/12 - 11:51 am
0
0
I have a neigbor who has been

I have a neigbor ( a deputy) who has been with the sheriffs department for years, as was his father.
He is very much for Peebles..
I noticed today a laarge sign for Sanders next to Sconyers Bar-B-Q .
My neigbor also thinks Sanders would be okay if other than Peebles wins on the Democrat ballot.

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