Sheriff Roundtree works to change how people view downtown safet - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Sheriff Roundtree works to change how people view downtown safety

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AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -

With a handshake and a smile, Friday night Richard Roundtree greeted people on Broad Street, tackling what he says is downtown's greatest challenge, the belief that it's unsafe.

"By being out, being active and letting people just see us around I think that's going to overcome that challenge," Roundtree, said.  

There were several foot and road patrols on Broad Street during First Friday, as well as deputies on bikes and golf carts.

Roundtree says he's not trying to make it feel like a military state but he says to change people's perception of downtown he needs to put feet on the ground.

He says his deputies aren't only visible during First Friday. He says he recently assigned two more deputies, for a total of four, to patrol downtown day and night, seven days a week.

Some people started questioning downtown safety after last July's First Friday when six people were injured after a man fired a gun into a crowd.

Chris Hardy was performing downtown when the shooting happened; he says he has seen improvement since then.

"It does feel more secure down here with the police presence," said Hardy.

Roundtree says it's his goal to make deputies visible so that people feel safe.

"We're not going on anniversaries; we're not going off the numbers. We want to create an environment no matter what time of day or night that it is where people stay safe," Roundtree, said.  

Angela Jones brought two children downtown for First Friday.

She said seeing the deputies on the street makes a difference, "I like to see the extra patrol out since it's supposed to be a family atmosphere and we do want to bring our kids out sometimes. So it makes you feel better to have them around and visible."

Roundtree says it may take some time but he hopes that ultimately people will think that downtown is safe.

Roundtree tells Fox54 in several days he will present a new plan for downtown safety that should "create a different perception of downtown by the end of summer." 

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