Richard Roundtree: 'I am not the man I was'

  • Follow Opinion columns

On Aug. 21, candidate Richard Roundtree won the Democratic nomination for the Richmond County sheriff’s race, defeating Scott Peebles in a runoff. He will take on the Republican nominee, Freddie Sanders, in November.

Life experiences have made Richmond County sheriff's candidate Richard Roundtree "a different person."  FILE/EMILY ROSE BENNETT
FILE/EMILY ROSE BENNETT
Life experiences have made Richmond County sheriff's candidate Richard Roundtree "a different person."

By most accounts, Roundtree’s win surprised pretty much everybody. Just about everybody thought Scott Peebles – with an endorsement from Sheriff Ronnie Strength, Mayor Deke Copenhaver, the Augusta Professional Firefighters and the most campaign money – was a shoo-in for the nomination.

That is, everybody except Roundtree and his camp.

ROUNDTREE SPENT eight years as a homicide detective with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. In 2008, he was demoted and removed from the homicide department when someone cleaning up his empty Augusta apartment found investigative files belonging to the sheriff’s office. It was a department violation, but not a criminal offense. There also were alleged inappropriate relationships with female co-workers on file.

I sat down with Richard recently to discuss his past, his present and what he says he wants for his future. He was surprisingly candid. No questions were off the table.

“When I was with the sheriff’s department, I was on top of my game. I was good and knew I was good as a homicide detective,” he said. “I was cocky, too. I was always confident in my game. People would see me on TV and some people thought it arrogant. Sometimes I would go into interrogations and say ‘Do you know who I am?’”

He laughed. “I am a different person now.”

“Why are you different?” I asked.

“My mother was always saying then that I was missing out on life, but I was so caught up with being a crime-fighter I didn’t see it,” he explained. “When I got demoted and was taken out of homicide, I felt like I lost it all, but then I had more time to spend with her and my sons. I realized that I had missed out on a lot. I had lost out on a lot of time with my sons and her. I changed that and continued to grow my faith.”

I asked Roundtree: What was your most memorable moment in law enforcement? His face instantly warmed. “I’d have to say it was the Reinaldo Rivera case,” he said. “I was a rookie working on that case. I arrived on the scene and worked the team that caught a serial killer.”

In 2004, serial killer Reinaldo Rivera confessed to the rape and murder of four women, dating to 1999. Roundtree, although a rookie working the case, says that the case was an important one for him.

ROUNDTREE BEGAN to share the details of the case. The more he shared about the case and his career, the more relaxed he became. To be honest I was so engaged in the story that I hadn’t noticed we’d talked for nearly two hours.

I asked him how he reconciled seeing the stuff he saw in homicide, and still slept at night.

“I had to learn to control my emotions and turn off my feelings. I’ve lost a lot of relationships because of that, but that’s what I had to do to get through it,” he said.

So is that why some people say he is cold and arrogant?

“Yes, I think so. I’ve gotten better with it.”

Let’s talk about your lost relationships, I said. What about you being a playboy?

“I’m not,” he said. “I haven’t had a serious relationship for nearly six years.”

Just because you weren’t in a relationship does not mean you’re not a playboy, I replied.

“I am not the man I was,” he said. “I’ve been through a lot and lost a lot, and if I was the same man today that I was years ago, then I would not have made it through all this. I’m a different person”

What has been the most difficult part of this whole election?

HE BEGAN TO tear up. “The most hurtful was the fact that my sons and my mother had to deal with all the negative stuff that was being written and said about me,” he said. “It’s hard to explain to a 6-year-old why people are saying nasty stuff about his daddy.”

I was so taken aback by his openness that I said loudly, “Roundtree, I made you cry!” “It’s the light shining in my eyes, Cher, that’s all,” he replied.

OK, I said. One more question. Would you have been crushed if you had not won the runoff?

“No, honestly, that night, I didn’t want to win so much for me. I wanted to win because so many people had worked so hard and I didn’t want to disappoint them. Personally, I was a peace because of my faith.”

After completing the interview, there were a few things I realized about him.

Richard Roundtree is a guarded man. I guess he has to be, and like most of us, he has made mistakes. He admits them. He also is a father who loves his children, a son who loves his mother and, at his core, a crime-fighter. He is human, and he need not apologize for that.

(The writer is a radio personality with radio station WKSP-FM (96.3), and a columnist for The Augusta Chronicle’s Applause section. She can be reached at cherbest@963kissfm.com.)

Comments (29) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
willie7
1047
Points
willie7 09/01/12 - 09:57 pm
3
6
Great Article, Cher. I am
Unpublished

Great Article, Cher. I am happy you wrote this type of article, talking to the man in personal. I am also elated that Roundtree is man enough to admit his mistakes and be able to move on.
God bless him!!!!!

specsta
6709
Points
specsta 09/02/12 - 12:03 am
2
7
Well said...

Thank you for your candor, soon-to-be-Sheriff Roundtree!

seenitB4
93466
Points
seenitB4 09/02/12 - 05:45 am
6
3
Good article

At last a positive article for Rtree.....see there you can do it Augusta Chronicle....now did that hurt any??:)
I believe you Tree & think you are a good man....but as you know I want Freddie .....

Riverman1
90279
Points
Riverman1 09/02/12 - 08:28 am
3
6
I see it as an article that

I see it as an article that dwells on his past mistakes, too much. We have never once seen an article or comment in a column discussing Peebles' past mistakes or asking him if he had changed. Many may have had private assurances, but that does not absolve the Chronicle from the double standard.

Eloraherrington
3
Points
Eloraherrington 09/02/12 - 08:35 am
1
5
Really enjoy reading this article

The article was very good and heartfelt.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 09/02/12 - 03:08 pm
6
1
My suggestion on finishing reading

... this gauntlet of soft-pitched cotton balls, "Get a room, you two."

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 09/02/12 - 03:10 pm
6
1
Is "Gratefulmother"

going to chime in with some thumbs-up? Or has he already?

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/02/12 - 03:42 pm
6
2
A great fluff peice.

It was a good attempt to personalize Roundtree as the once imperfect man that has now done the story book miracle 180.

I just don't buy it.

InChristLove
22481
Points
InChristLove 09/02/12 - 05:01 pm
6
2
"....and continued to grow my

"....and continued to grow my faith.” Personally, I was a peace because of my faith.”

What exactly does Roundtree mean by "his faith"?

Seems like a lot of answers that really aren't answers. Haven't been in a serious relationship in 6 years ...... well most playboys can say the same thing....to me that's not an answer. If you want to explain to your 6 year old why individuals are speaking ill of you, how about first explaining to your child that you've made some serious mistakes in life, things you aren't proud of and that you are trying to change your ways. Use it as a teachable moment to impress on your child how important good character is.

I'm sorry, but I don't know this man, don't know anything about what he's done in the past but this article doesn't tell me anything about the man Roundtree......what kind of man is he an whether he is the best man to be our sheriff.d

Little Lamb
47862
Points
Little Lamb 09/02/12 - 05:52 pm
5
2
Relationships

I can believe that Roundtree has not been in a serious relationship in six years. That is the modus operandus of a womanizer, a playboy. He is a dilettante, a scoundrel. Perhaps this is the kind of a sheriff a city named after Princess Augusta deserves. Perhaps not.

Just My Opinion
6066
Points
Just My Opinion 09/02/12 - 07:36 pm
3
2
I'm sorry but that was a

I'm sorry but that was a terrible article. I think my 12 yr old could've written a more compelling article. But, if the intent was to have a soft, human-interest type article, then it hit the mark. But, I have to wonder why in the world she didn't ask about the whole Gratefulmother episode? I mean, Cher, even YOU have to wonder about that one, right? Actually, ALL people who are backing Roundtree have to wonder about it.......don't y'all want to hear it right from his own mouth?? Isn't it important to y'all? C'mon Willie and Specsta...at least y'all can give us your opinion on Gratefulmother. I really, honestly would like to know how you see that.

TrulyWorried
16063
Points
TrulyWorried 09/02/12 - 07:59 pm
2
2
Roundtree

Wife - no wife - but children - even if divorced it would help to find out about THAT part. Might as well explore it all.

Little Lamb
47862
Points
Little Lamb 09/02/12 - 08:09 pm
3
3
Existentialism

So Richard Roundtree tells Cher Best, “I am not the man I was.”

I wonder if he would tell me, “I am not the man I am going to be.” . . . ?

Who is he? I guess he is just the man he is tonight. Why is the paper publishing this nihilistic, existential, absurdist, dadaist tripe about Roundtree? Where are the corresponding interviews with Sanders? Where is the equal treatment?

specsta
6709
Points
specsta 09/02/12 - 09:45 pm
3
2
Wait For The Right Relationship

Little Lamb wrote: "I can believe that Roundtree has not been in a serious relationship in six years. That is the modus operandus of a womanizer, a playboy. He is a dilettante, a scoundrel."

Seriously? I know several men and women who have not been in a serious relationship for years, and they are some of the most delightful, engaging people you could ever meet. They are enjoying their lives and moving toward their personal goals. They care about themselves enough not to jump into any relationship just to have a "man in my life" or a "woman in my life".

That's a serious issue for a lot of people - they can't be alone (especially women) and make bad decisions by getting into relationships with people they have no business being with.

By contrast, I also know many individuals in "serious" relationships and marriages, who are miserable and have no joy in their lives.

The status of one's romantic life does not characterize someone as a "playboy" or not.

janderson1945
1903
Points
janderson1945 09/03/12 - 12:05 am
3
0
Those who wish to see the

Those who wish to see the good in a person will see the good from this article and those who don't will see nothing but his faults or negativity. The man has served this area for many years and has served very well with nothing but positives since 2008 for making a mistake and leaving items in an apartment with his previous write ups occurring over 16 years ago. He hasn't won the vote of confidence from my family as of yet but is well on the way.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/03/12 - 06:22 am
1
0
"Just because he did it before...

does not mean he'll do it again." While we do seem to hear this a lot when speaking of Roundtree, it is a very true and correct statement."

The problem is, Roundtree did it before, did it again, again, and again.

A serious follow up interview is in order. An interview that does ask the pointed questions we have posed it here. Or better yet, Mr. Roundtree there is no need to wait, you can address them directly by posting your answers here.

Just My Opinion
6066
Points
Just My Opinion 09/03/12 - 09:46 am
1
0
specsta, I am very

specsta, I am very disappointed in you. You addressed Little Lamb, but you never mentioned my question that was specifically for you. Maybe you're like the rest of us and you just don't know the answer as to what happened with Roundtree's other personality "gratefulmother". If I were a Richmond County voter, I would definitely want the answer to this, otherwise I would HAVE to vote for Sanders. Why vote for someone with a KNOWN big, fat skeleton (can skeletons be fat??) in their closet?
And opencurtain has a great idea...have Mr. Roundtree address the issue right here on this forum. Why not? Roundtree has honestly admitted that his campaign had to do the most with having little campaign funds to work with, so why not utilize this FREE forum that thousands of potential voters can read?

henrystripe
59
Points
henrystripe 09/03/12 - 09:27 pm
2
0
wake up . . . Roundtree has a lousy track record

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. This column is totally biased and is not based on his objective qualifications. UGH.

Riverman1
90279
Points
Riverman1 09/04/12 - 09:58 am
1
1
Roundtree now has lots of

Roundtree now has lots of money to work with. Lewis Blanchard has come over to his side along with Peebles and they are throwing Tree parties.

Austin Rhodes
2970
Points
Austin Rhodes 09/04/12 - 03:04 pm
3
0
Objection...

While there are PLENTY of cases solved because of good solid police work, the Rivera case was NOT one of them. The cases were not even LINKED to each other until Rivera left a victim alive who was able (along with physical evidence) to ID him...he then cracked about five minutes after being picked up.

I remember distinctly RCSD personnel (The Sheriff specifically) scoffing at the notion we had a serial killer in the loose.

Riverman1
90279
Points
Riverman1 09/04/12 - 03:35 pm
0
1
If anyone doubts how much

If anyone doubts how much Peebles is now supporting Roundtree, realize his former campaign manager, Lewis Blanchard, is putting on a party for Roundtree in his establishment. They are going all out although they always have ulterior motives.

AutumnLeaves
9502
Points
AutumnLeaves 09/04/12 - 04:09 pm
1
1
Thank you.

Thank you, Austin Rhodes, for setting it straight about Roundtree's slanted comments on the Rivera Case. I hate it when facts get mis-represented. I can't help but remember Richard Roundtree's frequent unprofessional attire of brightly colored matching dressy suits and hats while speaking to news cameras on behalf of the department at crime scenes before he was encouraged to resign from the sheriff's department. I was embarassed even though I have never worked for the department; I can imagine how his fellow officers must have cringed when he did it. Wearing those suits, which smacked of grand-standing, didn't seem very smart to do or appropriate; I could only hope he was called out of church services or special occasions, because otherwise, those suits are what the entertainment industry commonly reserves for actors portraying pimps.

Karen Slater-McDaniel
3100
Points
Karen Slater-McDaniel 09/04/12 - 06:10 pm
2
2
What was "slanted" about

What was "slanted" about Roundtree's comments regarding the Rivera case? He said he worked on the TEAM (as a rookie investigator) who solved the case. Please explain what he said that was incorrect? He did not imply he "single-handedly tracked down Rivera and that only he knew was a serial killer". I think the only thing slanted are some peoples views regarding Roundtree ... a lot of which is blatant misinformation purposefully lacking the entire truth.

Riverman1
90279
Points
Riverman1 09/04/12 - 07:01 pm
2
1
KSM, good points. Roundtree

KSM, good points. Roundtree never tried to take credit for the Rivera case. He clearly says he was a rookie working on that team.

Austin Rhodes
2970
Points
Austin Rhodes 09/04/12 - 07:24 pm
1
1
Why even mention it?

RCSD did virtually NOTHING but get most of that case wrong UNTIL Rivera was caught by his own mistakes, and then he confessed to everything and even asked for the death penalty.

There are plenty of great cases RC has made over the years, but the Rivera case was a HUGE miss on their part.

Karen Slater-McDaniel
3100
Points
Karen Slater-McDaniel 09/04/12 - 07:58 pm
2
1
I believe the only thing

I believe the only thing Roundtree was attempting to convey was that it was one of the most "memorable" cases he was involved with. I am almost positive that any RCSO LEO has that one case that stands out in their mind, whether they work CID, road patrol, etc.

I remember years ago everyone (including LE) was in denial about Augusta having a serial rapist, but we had one of those here too in the mid to late 1980's.

Karen Slater-McDaniel
3100
Points
Karen Slater-McDaniel 09/04/12 - 08:07 pm
2
1
My first comments was in

My first comments was in response to AL using the word "slanted" in her comment above mine ... making it seem like Roundtree was being misleading in the article. I didn't see where that was coming from.

Riverman1
90279
Points
Riverman1 09/04/12 - 08:18 pm
2
1
Roundtree said it was

Roundtree said it was memorable to him. I read it to mean because he was a rookie and it such a well known case. I don't think he was bragging on himself or the department. Some are stretching here.

AutumnLeaves
9502
Points
AutumnLeaves 09/06/12 - 03:26 pm
2
1
Yes.

Yes, some are stretching here, but I'm not one of them, Riverman1. Karen, he didn't seem like he was being misleading; he WAS being misleading.

Karen Slater-McDaniel
3100
Points
Karen Slater-McDaniel 09/06/12 - 11:44 pm
1
2
Well then ...

Please explain, siting sources and specifically quoting from this LTE exactly what he said misleading. If you have knowledge of any misleading, slanted statement or mistruth, please do tell.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Turkeys taste own medicine

I got up and out of my sickbed so I could write this column because it’s time for the annual Turkey of the Year awards, the highlight of the holiday season.
Search Augusta jobs