News 12 First at Five / Thursday, May 30, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- They say nothing is stronger than the heart of a volunteer, and Sheriff Richard Roundtree says he believes that statement just may be the answer to some of the shortcomings in the Sheriff's Office.
On Thursday, several deputies were sworn in as reserve officers, deputies who will volunteer their time and services all for free.
Barry Davis is a new reserve officer. Right now, he spends his days behind a desk, wearing a tie and running the mortgage division for SunTrust in Evans, but soon, he'll be spending some time in a different uniform.
"I worked for Richmond County for many years, and I've been gone for a while and had the itch to get back into it," Davis said.
Davis, along with eight others, took an oath Thursday at the Richmond County Probate Court, bringing them a step closer to being the first group of reserve deputies for the county.
Jovonda McNeil took the oath as well.
"It's been a long time coming. I've always wondered why, even when I was on with the Sheriff's Department, Columbia County was doing it for years," McNeil said.
Many of the new reserve officers used to work in law enforcement and have since moved onto other jobs.
"This part of the job, I miss, so I wanted to come back," McNeil said.
"The Sheriff's Office did so much for me in my years of service here, and just to give back and to serve is something I've been wanting to do for a while now," Davis said.
By taking the oath, they will be given all of the same authority as regular deputies -- the only difference will be the paycheck.
"We're volunteering that time, and it's a sense of pride giving it back to the community," McNeil said.
On Friday, the deputies will head out to the firing range to qualify, then, as soon as they get their uniforms, they'll be out on the streets, working to protect the community.
"The Sheriff's Office needs extra manpower and to have someone come in and volunteer, that's a great partnership," Davis said.
"I live here, so I want it to be a safe place," McNeil said.
Each reserve deputy will work a minimum of 20 hours a month. Like a lot of groups, the department is facing budget restraints and a hiring freeze, so this is one way to ease the pinch on the pocket without sacrificing numbers out on the streets.