On Sept. 26 I attended the candidate forum sponsored by Augusta Pride and Progress and heard both candidates for sheriff.
Leon Garvin spoke of his plans for improvement in the sheriff's department and Ronnie Strength spoke of his years of experience. He has 24 years with the Richmond County Sheriff's Department, the last 10 as chief deputy. Mr. Garvin has been with the department for 32 years, the last few years as public relations officer, meeting with and educating church, school and other community groups.
Most people are not aware that Mr. Garvin also was a criminal investigator, a narcotics investigator, and a member of the first SWAT team in Richmond County. In fact, he has had wide experience in every aspect of law enforcement with the sheriff's department.
Both men are experienced and qualified for the position of sheriff, so what's the difference? The difference is leadership and vision. Mr. Garvin has a vision for the future of the sheriff's office.
He will see that deputies patrol all neighborhoods. Without increasing the size of the force, he'll provide more effective service by deploying and managing personnel better. He wants a Citizens Review Board for the sheriff's department. He wants to get a Georgia State Patrol station here in Richmond County, thereby freeing up deputies for more neighborhood crime detection and prevention duties.
He wants our deputies to be on a par with neighboring counties in pay and benefits, so we can keep good people and attract more when we need them. He wants to improve employee relations in the sheriff's department.
Mr. Garvin was behind the DARE program in our elementary schools. He was the man who helped to organize Neighborhood Watch programs ... Throughout his life, Mr. Garvin has consistently supported programs that work to improve the qualify of life for children and teens.
He has mentored and counseled troubled youth. He has spent countless hours of his own time speaking to church groups, school groups, and community groups about neighborhood safety and prevention of drug abuse, child abuse and street crime. Mr. Strength closed his remarks by stating that this election was about who we trust with running the sheriff's department. I trust Mr. Garvin. ...
Ernestine R. Crews, Hephzibah