The homicide rate in Richmond County is down from the same time last year. Sheriff Richard Roundtree has been in office for nearly four months and there have been two criminal homicides in the county under his administration.
Around this time last year, Richmond County had investigated a total of 12 homicides. So why is the number of murders dropping in Richmond County? We talked with Sheriff Richard Roundtree to find out.
"I said it during my platform I wanted this Sheriff's Office to be a tool to unite this community and not just to go out and like they say, lock up bad guys. You know, we want to prevent crime. We want to deter crime. We want the criminal element to find another haven because Augusta is not the place we want them to be," says Roundtree.
Back when he was running for sheriff, Richard Roundtree said he wanted to cut down the homicide rate in Richmond County.
There have been four homicides in Richmond County this year, but two of them don't count as justifiable homicide statistics. One was when a deputy shot and killed a suspect who was holding a knife and the other was when a man died from injuries after a bar fight.
That is two criminal homicides so far this year. The first happened after a shooting at a club on New Year's Day. The other was a shooting at a home on April 16th. Roundtree says although there are likely several factors that have caused a decrease in homicides this year, he attributes it to his administration's effort to increase police presence in the county.
"And again, my office isn't just patrolling, they are actively engaging citizens. And I think that is the important thing, you know. One of my emphasis' is I told my officers to get out of their cars. I want them to walk the neighborhood. I want them to engage people," says Roundtree.
And Roundtree says his officers aren't just engaging law-abiding citizens. He says they are actively working with gangs in the area as well.
"You know we are proactive in the fact of if we see something that appears to be gang related and we think there is going to be retaliation, then we focus our efforts on those cases. We go to those players. We go to those people and say look, we know this is something that can escalate to someone losing their life and this is something we need to stop before it gets to that poin," says Roundtree.
Roundtree says that the community is also becoming more involved with the Sheriff's Office. His administration created a Facebook page back in January. He says the page is working because investigators have received at least four to five tips from social media that have lead to arrests.
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