Commissioners vote to rename sheriff's office in honor of outgoing sheriff

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- First a new building, and now, a new name for the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

On Tuesday, commissioners voted to name the building in honor of outgoing Sheriff Ronnie Strength, but some think it's a little too soon.

"The timing was definitely wrong," said Commissioner Bill Lockett.

He voted against naming the building, saying he agrees with the choice just not the timing.

"If we would just have waited until the next meeting, which would be in the year 2013, he would be out of office, and then I would have supported it, and I'm quite sure my other nine colleagues would have supported it also," he said.

But Commissioner Alvin Mason says, "Really at the end of the day, what difference does it make? I mean, if you feel it's OK to do, it doesn't matter whether it's when he's in office or out of office."

Lockett says the commission has a history of naming buildings too quickly before other nominations have time to be considered. He says that's the reason he asked the city administrator to come up with a plan to fix that problem.

"The administrator was tasked to come up with a policy and procedure on how to go about doing this, and he didn't do it. So this thing just started out wrong," Lockett said.

We caught up with Strength, who was also surprised by how quickly they voted.

"It seemed other people knew it before me, and I was totally unaware of it," he said.

A similar song and dance coming from the sheriff-elect on The Inside Story on 96.3.

"We knew that was probably something that was going to be in the works; I was surprised that it came that soon," said Richard Roundtree.

Strength says he's humbled, but he feels that a lot of other people deserve the honor over him.

"Not that I'm not happy they're going to do it after me, but I've got about 752 employees down here, their names ought to be on it, too," he said.

But regardless of timing and proper procedure, most commissioners agree that Strength deserves this honor hands down.

"Sheriff Strength has done an incredible job for this entire community for the 12 years that he's been sheriff and over 35 years that he's been on the force," Mason said.

The vote to name the building passed 7-1 with Lockett voting no and Commissioner Joe Bowles abstaining.

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