AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is reaching out to the community for support in making the city safer.
Although homicides are down, gun-related assaults are on the rise. A new initiative to end gun crime begins this week and will continue through the summer.
Richmond County is taking an aggressive, proactive measure to make our community a safer place to call home, and Sheriff Roundtree said illegal firearms on the streets is the city’s biggest problem.
He said he has been combating gun related crime in Augusta for years, but getting rid of them is going to take a community effort..
“That’s the main focus: illegal guns. We promote responsible ownership, but the ones we’re seeing commit these crimes are not these individuals. These are people who have stolen firearms, felony records, people who are using these guns for harm in an offensive manner to citizens in Richmond County,” Roundtree explained.
Chief Deputy, Patrick Clayton, said too many young people are dying, and gun violence cannot be tolerated any longer.
“We want you to call before that when you see somebody is in an altercation and you think it even has the potential to become violent. When they’re having a loud discussion or using profanity toward each other that’s starting to escalate, and we don’t want situations to escalate out of control. We want you to call us immediately,” Clayton told NewsChannel 6.
A phone call can save a life. Clayton said he understands there is often a fear, disconnect or mistrust between citizens and law enforcement, but he wants those barriers to crumble.
“Making arrests and issuing citations is a small part of our job. It is only a tool to make behavior changes, but there are a lot of other ways to make behavior changes without arresting and incarcerating people,” Clayton explained.
Clayton said citizens can call anonymously and could get a reward for information leading to seizures of illegal weapons.
“We believe that if the community will get behind us on this, they will basically galvanize against people who are illegal carrying and using guns, that is going to have a tremendous effect of the community,” Clayton concluded.
Chief Clayton said there’s a very small number of deputies that have to cover 328 square miles of Richmond County. That’s why community involvement is so important.
If you see anything suspicious in your neighborhood, contact the Richmond County Sheriff’s Department: (706) 821-1080.