Regarding the Augusta Human Relations Commission: I oppose allotting this committee any further authority in investigating the sheriff's department of Richmond County.
Information has not come forward about police corruption and/or abuse that has not been investigated, and the offending officer(s) received retribution. I do believe that the additional authority being requested is partially due to actions by rogue officers, yet they have been disciplined - as others in the past have - leaving no doubt that Sheriff Ronnie Strength is on top of his duties.
Do not perceive me as a pacifist or blind loyalist. I support the HRC and its duties, as well as Sheriff Strength, but I cannot support a blind fishing expedition on our police department. This would undermine the authority of officers on duty and can compromise necessary actions under stressful situations.
Our police department is not without faults, but swift and appropriate actions by those in charge of the department are keeping faith in those decisions strong among the public.
On the other hand, I do support a measure that would allow the HRC to directly review all disciplinary actions of the sheriff's department and bring forth their concerns to the public safety committee for future addressing. If it is found that Sheriff Strength is not consistent and/or fair to officers and/or complainants, then further action by our commission may be necessary.
Until such time, I cannot support, and I ask the commissioners not to support, any additional authority to the HRC.
Charlie Hannah, Augusta
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