Originally created 09/21/04

Deputies begin patrolling Richmond County schools



Sheriff's deputies received a short, to-the-point briefing Monday morning before their first day of patrolling Richmond County schools.

Enforce zero tolerance.

"If they commit a crime or violate an ordinance, they're going to jail," Col. Gary Powell told deputies in front of the Academy of Richmond County.

The task force was announced last week by the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, the Office of the District Attorney and the Board of Education, in the wake of fights at Butler and Glenn Hills high schools.

A fight at Glenn Hills on Sept. 10 resulted in the assault of a teacher as she tried to intervene.

Beyond Glenn Hills and Butler, other high schools had sheriff's deputies present during the day Monday.

Richmond Academy, T.W. Josey and Cross Creek high schools also had teams of sheriff's deputies working with Board of Education public safety officers.

The teams of deputies - which include at least one sheriff's investigator and road patrol deputies - are working on the task force while on special duty.

These officers do not receive their normal salaries while on duty, but receive special duty pay.

Col. Powell said the school board is paying for the special service - at a rate of $15 per hour.

He said about 25 deputies were on duty at the schools Monday.

Col. Powell said 10 people were arrested Monday by task force deputies - nine of them juveniles.

He said seven arrests were at Glenn Hills, and three were at Cross Creek.

The one student arrested and charged as an adult - which meant being booked into the county jail - was Richard David Anderson, 17, of the 3800 block of Mike Padgett Highway, jail records state.

He was charged at Cross Creek High School with affray and disrupting school, the records state.

Col. Powell said of the seven charged at Glenn Hills, two were charged with simple battery, one with criminal trespass, and four with disruption of a public school, of which one also was charged with simple battery.

Of the juveniles arrested at Cross Creek, one was charged with affray and disrupting school, and another was charged with disorderly conduct and misdemeanor obstruction of a law enforcement officer, the colonel said.

Col. Powell said no problems were reported at other schools where task force deputies were patrolling.

Juveniles, who were not named by police because of their ages, were referred to the Department of Juvenile Justice, as is common procedure for certain offenses committed by offenders younger than 17.

While students huddled in the blustery cool outside Richmond Academy on Monday morning, some questioned why their school was being singled out.

A few said they didn't know why the deputies were there in the first place.

"They've got us like prisoners in here," said Aleesia Jackson, 15, a sophomore.

However, at Glenn Hills, family members of students said the extra security is a good thing.

"It's needed," said Vanessa Durren, who was waiting to pick up her 16-year-old brother, a student at the school.

"For years it's been going on and on, and nothing has happened," Ms. Durren said.

"Maybe they'll get it taken care of since the police force is here," she said.

Col. Powell said task force deputies will be in the schools for at least three weeks, but might remain longer if needed.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.