Following the new gun initiative Investigator Ridley was a part of, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Intelligence Division has a program helping those associated with gun violence.
The program doesn’t target these individuals, but helps them get back on the right track.
The program is called Augusta Giving Back. You’ll see members of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Intelligence Division wears bright orange shirts around town, seeking to help out victims and offenders, such as Alvin Hester Jr., the man who is charged with shooting Investigator Ridley. They say if they have unsuccessful contact with these individuals, they’ll most likely see them pop up in a crime report again.
Criminal Intelligence Director for RCSO, Lateisha Mosquera, says, “the initiative was derived because of the increase in gun violence and homicides in recent years in Richmond County.”
Suspects, victims, and the families left behind are all those who qualify for the program.
“We don’t turn anyone away. We do, for reporting purposes, we are looking for the offenders and victims in gun crimes,” says Mosquera.
Sifting through old crime and incident reports, the Intelligence Division wears these orange shirts. They go door-to-door in high risk areas and give others the opportunity for help.
“What we’re doing is we’re selling an offer to them. We’re telling them that basically we know you’re history, we know your story,” says Mosquera, “and our biggest point to them is that we are here to meet you where you are right now and help you advance.”
Services offered include mental health assessments, substance abuse assessments, job readiness skills,or even something as simple as transportation.
“What we’re doing is we are trying to step in and intervene and telling them that we need them in our community. We want them to be, we respect them as an individual, but we also want them to be productive in this community,” says Mosquera.
This program with the Sheriff’s Office, for offenders, is not to be confused with an arrest.
“We need them to understand that this is not a target against them,” says Mosquera.
Mosquera says people have told her it turned their life around.
“Some individuals have. To us it’s the big small things. When you talk to them, and you see them get their first job, or they get their drivers license, or they get their high school diploma. Things like that. They are very appreciative of those things,” says Mosquera.
If you or your organization would like to be a part of Augusta Giving Back, you can contact Lateisha Mosquera at (706) 550-5730, or e-mail her at: Lmosquera@augustaga.gov.