News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- There is a new sheriff-elect in Richmond County. Lt. Richard Roundtree snagged 63 percent of the vote Tuesday night and is set to become the first African-American sheriff in Richmond County.
"How are you feeling this morning?" we asked Roundtree as he called into our weekly radio segment on 96.3 KISS FM.
"I'm tired, Chris, but I am extremely happy to be with the citizens this morning," he replied.
Roundtree is set to be the county's first African American sheriff.
"It tells us what we can do when we vote," said historian Dr. Mallory Millender. "This is the election with the greatest African-American impact that I have seen in my lifetime."
Voters took to the polls and sent African-Americans to the Sheriff's Office, probate judge, and Solicitor's Office; not to mention the White House.
"We were waiting for the computer to hurry up," said District Attorney Ashley Wright who insists it's not always about race. "I hope it's not always about race. I think it is about what people want."
"The biggest challenge is changing the mindset of deputies and the citizens of Richmond County," said Roundtree, who says deputies are peace officers not just law enforcement officers.
"In the '50s, black police could not arrest white people," said Dr. Millender. "Now the sheriff is black. That speaks volumes for the progress we have made."
But this sheriff will push education over incarceration.
"We are trying to promote voluntary compliance," Roundtree said. "It takes no effort in the world to go out and just lockup somebody up. If you are bigger and stronger and have enough people, you can lock up anybody in the world."
The top cop and top prosecutor are pushing racial harmony.
"I've said it before," Wright said, "I think, a lot of times, we look at the things that divide us."
The focus is now reaching out to the community. Roundtree is starting with a challenger turned supporter like Cpt. Scott Peebles.
"My greater good is for the community, and Scott's greater good is for the community, too," Roundtree said. "He has been part of this administration before this race started, and he is going to be a part of this administration come Jan. 1."