High-tech cameras are ‘invaluable’ in fighting crime, sheriff says
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta Commission members agreed Tuesday they wanted more information about a request for $300,000 for more security cameras for the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
But commissioners say they want to hear from the sheriff.
At a commission meeting Tuesday, Mayor Hardie Davis addressed the rise in crime and says he spoke with the sheriff about what would help. During that meeting, he told the sheriff about extra federal funding that could help with more cameras.
We asked Sheriff Richard Roundtree to describe what the new Flock cameras would mean to the agency. He says there’s only one word.
“Invaluable. Right now, they’re invaluable to us,” he said.
The sheriff’s office has access to 58 cameras. The cameras use artificial intelligence technology to identify license plates.
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“We have 51 in operation that are controlled by us. We have another seven that is a partnership with some private entities that they allow us to have access to,” said Roundtree.
All for one goal, reducing crime. Since May, he says they’ve had tremendous success.
“We’ve recovered over 40 stolen vehicles, a half million dollars in merchandise property actually helped to solve two homicides, kidnappings. To have that tool at our discretion is huge,” said Roundtree.
With the rise in crime, he sat down with Davis to discuss solutions.
“We met with the mayor’s office. And the mayor said this is our plan for how we can help reduce crime in Richmond County. He says we have some ARP funds available and do you think that will help you? We said, ‘yeah, absolutely,’” Roundtree said.
When Davis presented the plan while talking about rising crime at commission, commissioners pushed back.
District 4 Commissioner Alvin Mason said: “If we’re having this type of issue then I would really like to hear from the sheriff on the issue.”
The sheriff says commissioners should be coming to him.
Roundtree said: “I think that’s what the commission should be doing. They should be coming to the sheriff’s office and asking, ‘how can we help you.’ Not waiting on the sheriff to say, come, this is what I need. It should be that kind of partnership. So I’m glad that the mayor took the initiative,” he said.
He says it’s a positive investment.
“That’s an investment back into the city. And we’re glad those funds were made available to us,” he said.
Roundtree also says these cameras bring people comfort since a deputy can’t be everywhere at all times, but these cameras can. And with more cameras in place, it will help to catch more criminals.
By the numbers
In March 2020, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office installed the first Flock safety camera as an investigative tool to reduce and solve property and violent crimes.
On May 10, 2022, the agency installed 25 more in various locations, then in August added 25 more.
That brings the total to 51, plus the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office shares cameras with 84 other law enforcement agencies.
The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office zone commanders as well as the intelligence division identified areas of concern that were statistically high for their rates of gun violence.
Deputies chose these hot-spot areas as choke points for camera placement.
Since May 10, the camera system has read about 5.5 million license plate tags.
The sheriff’s office has solved two homicides and two armed robberies, recovered 38 stolen vehicles and made 28 arrests in those cases for a total of $597,526, the value of the recovered vehicles.
|Burglary||1||1 (serial burglar)|
|Recovered stolen vehicles||38||28|
|Traffic hit and runs||2||2|
|Stolen tag recoveries||3||0|
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