First Friday festivities in downtown Augusta have wrapped up. But for the first time, Richmond County deputies are getting some extra help as they patrol the streets.
The increase in security comes after 2 men brutally attacked a couple on the Riverwalk 3 months ago, and last year, 6 people were shot just after First Friday ended.
Officers set up a command center on 6th and Broad Street, and hope the extra visibility will deter crooks.
It's a typical First Friday in downtown Augusta – with musicians, vendors, and people lining the streets.
But what makes this First Friday different is an increase in police patrols.
"I feel perfectly safe – it's beautiful out and there are lot of people and with police around, there are no issues here with safety," said Paul Wallach.
Typically, 40 Richmond County deputies hit the downtown district.
But now they're getting an extra set of eyes thanks to volunteer reserve deputies.
"It gives the sheriff the opportunity to use the reserve deputies instead of pulling resources from other shifts, you can use us to fill in the gaps," said Richmond County Reserve Deputy, Barry Davis.
Reserve deputies can also make arrests and carry guns.
"Reserve deputies are exactly like any other officer – they don't get a salary, and help put additional patrols on the street," said Lt. Lewis Blanchard.
Just recently, Augusta commissioners approved workers compensation for the reserve deputies.
Commissioners also approved a plan to install 30 cameras downtown but business owners will have to decide if they want that or not.
Deputies patrol until about midnight but could stay until the bars close depending on how big the crowds get.
"I think we need to do whatever's necessary to make people comfortable and build up the community."
6 of the 10 volunteer reserve deputies patrolled the streets. Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree hopes to add more volunteer deputies to the department.
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