First on 12: No layoffs, demotions planned for Richmond Co. Sheriff's Office

Richmond County Sheriff-Elect Richard Roundtree (WRDW-TV)
Richmond County Sheriff-Elect Richard Roundtree (WRDW-TV)
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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- In less than a month, Augusta will have a new sheriff in town. Sheriff-Elect Richard Roundtree has been away at sheriff training for the past three weeks in Forsyth, and in his absence, the rumor mill has been working overtime back home.

News 12's Laura Warren traveled to Forsyth to ask the questions you want answered. From his upcoming inaugural ball to questions about promotions and demotions, nothing was off the table.

We start with sheriff school. Exactly what has he been learning there?

"It's a whole lot of information that they're trying to instill in us from past sheriffs," he said.

New sheriffs from across Georgia have been learning everything from how to deal with the media to how to avoid a lawsuit. But, with less than 30 days until Roundtree takes on his new role, we had a few questions for Augusta's top cop, starting with jobs.

"Every position we are creating or reassigning, we are doing with existing personnel. Now we may bring in some outside personnel, but that's all going to be within the confines of our budget," he said.

So, no layoffs coming for sheriff's deputies, but what about demotions?

"No one's getting demoted. No one's getting run off or anything of that nature," Roundtree said.

He says no demotions, but wasn't Sheriff Strength's right-hand man just demoted back to captain?

Roundtree says that wasn't the case, saying, "He wasn't promoted to chief deputy, he was appointed, so he wasn't demoted back to captain, he was just reassigned back to his original position."

He says captains can expect to stay captains and lieutenants can expect to stay lieutenants, the only thing that may change is their job title.

"There may be some reorganization, they may be assigned to different duties, absolutely. Because I want them to fit their best strength," he said.

Another rumor to lay to rest is his trip to Vegas. We asked him if there were any suspicious funds flowing into his bank account after that trip a couple of weekends ago.

"I don't have $100,000 anywhere in my bank account," he said.

So, he may not be a lucky sheriff-to-be, but he says, there was nothing fishy. He says it was just a final trip before his new job takes over his life.

"As a politician, as an elected official, as a public figure, I know everything you do is going to be scrutinized, but again, we're not engaged in anything unethical, anything criminal," he said.

We also asked him about his upcoming inaugural ball in January, and the $150 to $250 tickets that have been raising more than a few eyebrows over excluding the "little people" who put him in office.

"Those people who they consider affluent who can afford to buy the tickets, they put me in office, too," he said.

But who will be footing the bill for this grand ball?

"It costs the taxpayers nothing. We've seen some stuff about who's going to pay for this -- it's going strictly through our campaign," Roundtree said.

He says the tickets will go to pay for the event, and what's left will be donated to five local charities.

Of course, it still begs the question: What about the folks who can't afford those expensive tickets? When can they be a part of the victory?

He says this event is designed to be a fundraiser for charity, but everyone is welcome to come to a free luncheon at Beulah Grove Baptist Church after he is sworn into office on Dec. 20.

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