Augusta, GA -
There was a big announcement about downtown Augusta today. Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree has created a new downtown safety initiative. He's calling it the S.M.A.R.T. Unit, which stands for safety management and response team. It will be comprised of certified deputies and the new created community safety officers.
Roundtree made the announcement just after 10am Thursday morning. Several Augusta Commissioners and city officials were present for the announcement.
The new S.M.A.R.T. Unit will focus on the downtown area. Currently, the unit has 3 Community Safety Officers and 4 Certified Deputies. Community Safety Officers, or CSO's, are not certified officers, which means they will not be able to make arrests. However, these officers will be extra sets of eyes for the downtown district.
If there is a crime happening or a problem downtown, they will report the activity to the Sheriff's Office. And with all the financial problems Augusta is having, Roundtree says this won't cost taxpayers an extra dime.
"We have directed the staff to reallocate resources from all other divisions and we were also able to civialianze at least 3 positions, non-law enforcement positions. That is to get more production from members of the sheriff's office without adding additional money to the budget."
The CSO's will patrol the downtown area on foot, bicycles, segways, golf carts, and patrol cars. Roundtree says he hopes to add 3 members to the team in the near future.