WJBF Investigates: Community Safety Officers Will Not Carry Guns - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

WJBF Investigates: Community Safety Officers Will Not Carry Guns Downtown

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Augusta, GA -

In July, Augusta commissioners approved the sheriff's downtown safety plan to create a new tax district for downtown property owners., which would allow the sheriff to hire 6 more officers for downtown patrolling.

We got an email from a viewer who said that the Richmond County Sheriff's Office is looking to hire "Community Safety Officers" for downtown Augusta. We did some investigating and found out that these officers would not be sworn-in, they don't have to be certified, and they will not be carrying guns downtown.

There has been a lot of talk about downtown safety over the last several months. Roundtree knows that, and that's why he came up with a plan to curb crime there. The plan is to put 9 officers downtown, but in order to do that, the Sheriff needs funding.

"That is an immediate solution to a problem. My emphasis is still going to be the focus of downtown. If the BID process does not pass, then we are about two years away from realizing that safety plan. But it will happen one way or another," Roundtree says.

For the downtown safety plan, Roundtree wants 3 of those downtown deputies to be "Community Safety Officers." They would patrol the downtown area, but they wouldn't be full law enforcement officers. And after last year's First Friday shooting, some say those officers could be walking targets. So we asked Roundtree about that.

"The community safety officer is just in conjunction to additional officers, they don't take the place of police officers. They are just additional eyes and ears on the street, and again they are additional liaisons with the business owners," Roundtree says.

He says the community safety officers could eventually be trained to be deputies, and he says other cities across the nation are starting to use these type of officers for downtown areas.

"I have a very good friend in Boston who came down and shared their resources with us, and told me their community safety officers are the backbone of his precinct. They are the liaison, the ambassadors of their police department, and they are invaluable," Roundtree says.

Roundtree is still waiting for the majority of downtown business owners to approve his plan, but he says most of them have told him they are interested.

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