Peebles touts experience in run for Richmond County sheriff

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Capt. Scott Peebles is the youngest candidate running for Richmond County sheriff, but he still thinks what sets him apart is experience.

In more than 20 years of service on the sheriff’s force, Peebles has worked in almost every department, including road patrol, the SWAT team, the DUI task force and as the officer in charge of investigating violent crimes and homicides.

The Augusta native began his career with the sheriff’s office at age 19 after graduating from Westside High School. He moved through departments and rose through the ranks rapidly over the next two decades. He has attended an array of schools and police training during that time, including the FBI Academy in 2005 and the Geor­­gia Law Enforcement Com­mand College in 2011.

“I think if you just look at the experience and the training, then it tells you that I’m someone who’s got a finger on the pulse of the department,” he said. “I’ve worked nearly every division there is. I know what it takes to get the job done. I know where the strengths are. I know where our weaknesses are, and I’ve got a vision for the agency to carry us forward.”

Peebles points to his biggest successes while working in investigations as three undercover operations – Operation Augusta Ink, Operation Fox Hunt and Operation Smoke Screen – that resulted in hundreds of arrests and cases made against suspects connected to gang activity, gun thefts and burglaries across the area. He says these complex operations involving many officers over several months prove he can make a difference at the top of the agency.

“I believe it is one thing to say that you can do something or to say what you want to do, but I’ve been able to demonstrate throughout the last 21 years that I can put a plan together and execute it successfully,” he said.

Peebles, who serves on the board of the United Way of the CSRA and the Greater Augusta Arts Council, lives on Central Avenue with his wife, Mandi. He has two daughters, ages 10 and 12, from a previous marriage.

“Richmond County is my home. It always has been and always will be,” he said.

RAISING STANDARDS

Peebles said that because Augusta is the second-largest city in the state, it deserves a sheriff’s office that reflects well on the city and its residents.

“We are the largest full-service sheriff’s office in the state,” he said. “I think it is important that we be a leader in the state when it comes to law enforcement.”

Peebles said he wants to professionalize the agency, which employs almost 800 people, by seeking national accreditation as many other agencies have done over the past 15 years.

“I think that it is important for the citizens to have confidence in their law enforcement, to know that their policies, procedures and practices are up to the highest international standards,” he sad. “National accreditation brings that. It brings a layer of protection for the community because the difference here is that we are not a police force. We are not hired and fired by the mayor, the city council or the commission. This is the sheriff, a very powerful position.”

Peebles said with higher standards comes more responsibility for the sheriff and some limitations placed on the power of the office.

“It’s a layer of transparency in the agency, and I think that transparency and that national accreditation will help develop more confidence in the community in us,” he said. “And to some regard I think it weakens the office of sheriff, and I think that that could be a good thing.”

DEPARTMENT DIVERSITY

Peebles said national accreditation will improve hiring and promotion practices and help alleviate perceptions on imbalance and under-representation by minorities on the force.

“If the African-American community here feels like the agency doesn’t have the proper representation or balance when it comes to officers in the agency, national accreditation oversees that and ensures that you have an agency that is reflective of the community,” he said. “It oversees your hiring and promotions practices to ensure that they are fair and equitable and that you have hiring and promotion practices that have basically stood court challenges.”

Peebles said building a recruitment program is critical to building a more diverse force and finding better qualified officers.

“Right now we have an open application process, and that is if you want to come apply to be a deputy then that is what you can do, but we don’t have any active recruitment,” he said. “As sheriff, to make sure that we have balance and that the African-American community has faith in the agency, then we have to be representative of the community.”

“You’ve got to go out and try to find the kind of individual you want for your agency,” he said. “Rather than being a passenger on the ship that is your agency, you should be driving the ship, so I want to drive us toward where we want to be.”

LEADERSHIP

Peebles said he wants to take the sheriff’s office in a new direction, but that doesn’t mean he is unhappy with the job Sheriff Ronnie Strength has done in the past 12 years.

“I believe in servant-style leadership, I believe in motivating and empowering people to get the job done, so to some degree that would be in contrast to the kind of old-school way that we do things now,” he said. “I admire, respect and love Sheriff Strength. He is like a father to me, but I’m not my father, and I have my own ideas.”

Peebles said he wants to continue Strength’s accessibility and openness to the public and intends to see people who come to call on him without appointment.

“You are a public servant, and I think you should be available to people,” he said. “Some folks I believe seek this office for power and some seek it for service. I believe in seeking it for service. It is a huge burden – it would be a burden to be sheriff of a county this size. When you lay your head down at night, you have got to be confident that you have put everything in place to keep 200,000 people safe.”

COMMUNITY POLICING

Another major change Pee­bles wants to make is transforming the agency to function in a community-oriented policing model. He said the change will be difficult but worth the effort.

“National accreditation and community-oriented policing, those two things will transform the agency completely,” he said.

“It is a much more proactive, a much more aggressive style of policing,” he said. “A lot of people see community policing by its name as weak on crime. It is the exact opposite. It is the most aggressive form of policing there is.”

Peebles said the current force is reactive, moving from call to call with no overall strategy about how to solve neighborhood problems or create a better quality of life. He said deputies will have to work with community leaders, neighborhood groups, churches and business owners to determine what problems need to be addressed and come up with strategies that work.

“Community policing really is putting together a strategic plan, not for each beat but for each neighborhood,” he said. “It recognizes that each neighborhood, each beat has its own set of problems that have to be addressed. Community policing directs your resources toward solving those problems in that area.”

UNDERSTANDING THE COMMUNITY

Peebles said he wants to build a sheriff’s office that helps make neighborhoods safer and improves the quality of life for all residents.

“It is all about officers understanding that citizens, rich, poor, black or white, no matter, they are all our customers, and we are here to serve them,” he said. “That mentality has to be bled down on a regular basis from the top of the agency all the way to the bottom.

“Being nice to someone should not in anyway translate as weakness. You can be very nice and still be strong and stand firm on the things you need to stand firm on,” he said. “I prefer to lead with honey rather than a baseball bat. I think you get a lot further with people by doing that.”

Comments (62) Add comment
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seenitB4
87304
Points
seenitB4 07/28/12 - 06:25 pm
3
3
I'm just blown away..

I have never seen one candidate get this much attention...ever..
Now he is the youngest ....heh....wisdom comes with a little age....
vote for Freddie.....

seenitB4
87304
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seenitB4 07/28/12 - 06:33 pm
2
1
Did Austin get this message??

sp says...
“I admire, respect and love Sheriff Strength. He is like a father to me,

Austin Rhodes
2862
Points
Austin Rhodes 07/28/12 - 06:38 pm
5
1
I knew Sheriff Strength...

...long before Scott was born...long before Ronnie was a cop.

I think the world of the Sheriff...always have. It is the people who you care about the most that can make you the maddest.

seenitB4
87304
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seenitB4 07/28/12 - 06:40 pm
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austin

When I listened to your program I didn't hear the love flowing his way...sorry....but it just wasn't there.

Austin Rhodes
2862
Points
Austin Rhodes 07/28/12 - 06:42 pm
4
1
seenitB4
87304
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seenitB4 07/28/12 - 06:44 pm
3
1
austin

What would you say if someone told YOU to cut your wife loose?

Riverman1
84078
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Riverman1 07/28/12 - 06:50 pm
2
1
Fluff Piece About Other Candidates?

Are we going to have stories about the Republicans and other Democratic candidates before the election?

Austin Rhodes
2862
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Austin Rhodes 07/28/12 - 06:49 pm
3
1
It depends...

Is she telling me to turn my back on the most important thing in my life, and damage it forever? Is she telling me NOT to do the thing I know most in my heart is right?

Go back and read my Spirit column on the topic of the future of the dept. from FEBRUARY. The Sheriff thanked me for that one...

Riverman1
84078
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Riverman1 07/28/12 - 06:51 pm
1
0
Lee Anderson Bumper Sticker

"Vote for Peebles"

seenitB4
87304
Points
seenitB4 07/28/12 - 06:52 pm
3
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austin

Some husbands would have been knocking on your door....not to thank you though!

seenitB4
87304
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seenitB4 07/28/12 - 07:01 pm
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0
It is 2012

Many husbands & wives vote for different candidiates....give money to different candidiates....this is not unusual in todays world....women have a brain......they make choices --believe it or not...
I was insulted with what you said,...really..

Little Lamb
46028
Points
Little Lamb 07/28/12 - 07:05 pm
3
2
Department Diversity

From the article:

Peebles said national accreditation will improve hiring and promotion practices and help alleviate perceptions on imbalance and under-representation by minorities on the force. “If the African-American community here feels like the agency doesn’t have the proper representation or balance when it comes to officers in the agency, national accreditation oversees that and ensures that you have an agency that is reflective of the community,” he said.

Peebles sounds a bit naive in this statement. You can promote affirmative action on your own without bringing in a national accrediting agency. Peebles just wants the accrediting agency to be the fall guy when the best detectives are passed over to achieve racial balancing, and those best detectives become rightfully upset.

janderson1945
1845
Points
janderson1945 07/28/12 - 07:04 pm
4
1
Great Reviews of Each Person

I have enjoyed reading the articles every single Sunday which have now fully covered all of the candidates. After reading all of them as well as meeting the candidates and going to forums I am convinced that Peebles is certainly the best candidate. Some of the others as good as well such as Silas and Ivey but Peebles is definitely the most qualified, well rounded and prepared for the job. Thanks Augusta Chronicle for doing full length stories and video on every single candidate equally.

seenitB4
87304
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seenitB4 07/28/12 - 07:09 pm
3
0
Fair & Balanced ?? hahah

The only thing that has made this contest balanced is the COMMENTS made by posters on here!!

tgentry
231
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tgentry 07/28/12 - 07:10 pm
4
0
Party Lines

This is why I think party affiliation should not be in the Sheriff's race anywhere. You need to vote for who you think is the best man for the job. I really believe Scott is the best candidate. Come Tuesday he will receive my vote. I just pray that there is not a run off.

Karen Slater-McDaniel
3100
Points
Karen Slater-McDaniel 07/28/12 - 07:13 pm
4
0
Let's clear something up

Let's clear something up fast. Going to the FBI academy for 22 weeks through the sheriffs department to become a LT does NOT make you a graduate of THE FBI academy ... it makes you a graduate of THAT 22 week course. If that were the case then Roundtree is also a graduate of THE FBI academy. Just a play on words.

Riverman1
84078
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Riverman1 07/28/12 - 07:15 pm
3
0
It is State Law that Makes Sheriffs Races partisan

Sheriffs have long been recognized as the main political figures in counties. If you want to hire the most qualified person to be a police chief, then fine. Matter of fact, Freddie Sanders was the last one hired before the departments combined. That says lots.

seenitB4
87304
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seenitB4 07/28/12 - 07:16 pm
2
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I respect the Sheriff

I respect the Sheriff for waiting to announce his decision...all of us should give him that...
I would say the man must be a very patient-kind -& generous man.....to keep his cool while others are mouthing...

Riverman1
84078
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Riverman1 07/28/12 - 07:21 pm
2
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I wonder who made the best

I wonder who made the best grades at the FBI course Peebles and Roundtree attended?

janderson1945
1845
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janderson1945 07/28/12 - 07:25 pm
2
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Seenit

I agree with you that not all husbands and wives agree who to vote on all of the time. Sometimes it is even good for the relationship and I am sure sometimes not. On this one we happen to agree but there was one a few years ago in another area where we had two opposing signs in the yard and the little lady happened to be the winner which of course I will not soon forget.

Austin Rhodes
2862
Points
Austin Rhodes 07/28/12 - 07:27 pm
2
1
Once you have made it clear...

...that certain winners would "damage" the department...you are playing with fire not to do everything in your power to stop that damage.

By the way...this was NEVER about anyone in the Sheriff's family supporting another candidate...the issue was the Sheriff's lack of involvement period. He knows who the best man is...and he stands quiet...until AFTER the primary, he says. So all of you saying it is decent for him to stay out of it...can back off that one.

seenitB4
87304
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seenitB4 07/28/12 - 07:28 pm
2
0
janderson

I respect your opinion but mine is different..I'm on these boards almost every day.....I will be honest even when it hurts....this paper has supported 1 candidiate from day 1...no ifs about it,....sure they have put a few pieces on others ...but please look at todays paper & tell me what you see?

seenitB4
87304
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seenitB4 07/28/12 - 07:33 pm
2
1
austin

I'm sure you don't want us to repeat the words you used....you are very calm now but you were not when you were saying what he should do....remember wearing pants & etc...on & on...
I think River said he would visit you if that had been his MRS>

Riverman1
84078
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Riverman1 07/28/12 - 07:35 pm
3
1
Strength's Support After Primary

Sheriff Strength's statement that he would not support any candidate in the primary does not translate that he will support someone in the run-off. It depends on a lot. It also could be he intends to support Freddie Sanders in the general.

seenitB4
87304
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seenitB4 07/28/12 - 07:46 pm
3
0
Speaking of husbands

I'm going to spend some time with mine now.....thank goodness he appreciates a woman .....never ever tells me how to vote---
River I'll see ya in the am......right here....:)

Karen Slater-McDaniel
3100
Points
Karen Slater-McDaniel 07/28/12 - 07:56 pm
3
2
Good evening SeenIt & RM ...

Good evening SeenIt & RM ... I am going to enjoy the last few hours with our son before he has to end his day of leave & be back at post.

But just to put this out there & dispel rumors & lies ... I am 100% PRO law enforcement & have been for almost 22 YEARS of my marriage & longer than that. To say otherwise is a crock. I did not spend my entire life best friends with the daughter of a respected Chief Deputy Sheriff and the Head of the RC Board of Elections & NOT respect everything they stood for! I agree with anything & everything each & every law enforcement officer does EXCEPT when any officer ever thinks they are above any laws they are sworn to protect. That's where the line is drawn.

Riverman1
84078
Points
Riverman1 07/28/12 - 07:57 pm
2
2
Let's Discuss Austin's Editorial

Austin said he told Peebles before the editorial came out and Peebles called Sheriff Strength to warn him. What if Strength had decided he didn't want to see such an article slamming him and his wife? What if he had told Peebles he would support him? If Austin had gone ahead and printed the article it would have looked pretty stupid. I suspect he could have pulled the editorial if Strength had caved in. The message to Strength was clear and he courageously answered...NO. Full speed ahead and all that.

Austin Rhodes
2862
Points
Austin Rhodes 07/28/12 - 08:26 pm
3
2
Actually...

I called the Sheriff FIRST...then I talked to Scott about it. Those conversations were Wednesday. The article was turned in Tuesday night.

I don't ask anyone for any permissions in such a thing, but I will give a courtesy "heads up"...which is what those calls were.

The Sheriff called me back Thursday to let me know what he thought.

Peebles did not call him to "warn" him...the Sheriff already knew.

Two corrections...I believe the Sheriff has said he WOULD endorse if there was a runoff. And RM...tell the truth...your political predictions...and your predicitions about me...have pretty much all been fabulously wrong.

John Butler...???

Riverman1
84078
Points
Riverman1 07/28/12 - 09:14 pm
2
0
Sue Burmeister??? Jody Rowland???

Sue Burmeister??? Jody Rowland???

But what did I predict about you? I supported you when the idiots were out front the station protesting.

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