This Is Why Strength’s Involvement Mattered
There has not been a political bait and switch this bad since the Bay of Pigs.
Sheriff Ronnie Strength actively backed, guided, pushed and poked Captain Scott Peebles to be his successor since the day after he won his final election almost four years ago. It was a job that the captain aspired to, it was the job he had trained to do and it was the job he had put in the hours and dedication to justifiably earn for the last 20 years.
Much like Major Ronnie Strength many years earlier, there was a sensible symmetry to the notion that Peebles would take over the office, and just like Strength’s guiding political mentor Sheriff Charlie Webster promised him, there were guarantees that Sheriff Strength would be there, in Scott’s corner for the duration, 110 percent.
He was there all right, but he showed up too damn late. Peebles lost the runoff for the Democratic sheriff’s slot on the ballot, and he lost because of two men that never should have even been on the ballot.
The sheriff said he had to keep the family peace and keep his mouth shut when his kind-hearted but woefully unqualified brother-in-law decided to throw his hat in the ring when the field already was set to include Peebles and disgraced and demoted former investigator (and this week’s runoff winner) Richard Roundtree.
I have heard many things about Robbie Silas, but the one thing I have not heard about him is that he is disloyal. If Strength had looked him in the eye and told him to stay out of the race, I bet you dollars to doughnuts he would have done it. He did not take a hard line with him, but by god he should have.
What was on the line is the future of law enforcement in Richmond County, and the quality of life for every high-ranking officer in the department, who almost to a man and woman want no part of working under Roundtree. The stakes were too high for Strength not to have done everything in his power and then some to make sure that Peebles got the same paved road to run down as he was given years ago by Sheriff Webster.
When it boils down to it, that is the big question for Sheriff Strength: Why would you not do for Scott Peebles what was done so generously for you? Everyone knows he earned it, and everyone knows you promised it. But just like JFK did to the brave Cuban revolutionaries set to depose a communist dictatorship, he pulled full support just as there was no turning back and, viola, you have the Augusta version of the Bay of Pigs.
There are many no doubt shouting as they read this “But this is a political race, there are no guarantees!” Or perhaps, “No one should expect to inherit an elected position!” I would agree that applies in virtually any other political category, but when it comes to running the day to day operations of the Sheriff’s Department of Richmond County, Georgia, electing the chief lawman by pure popular vote is akin to electing an Army field general in the same fashion.
The job is too detailed, and depends on too much loyalty and dedication from the men in the ranks to be taken as lightly as the election process obviously takes it.
This area has screwed up mightily in the past electing sheriffs. I can name three off the top of my head who went to jail, and at least three more that deserved to go. It is understandable and completely sensible to expect to have a training program in place for future departmental leaders, especially when a smart guy like Strength happens to be in charge. Peebles did everything he was supposed to do, and when the time came for his sheriff to stand up for him, Strength left him hanging out to dry.
I made a few very poor jokes about the sheriff’s wife’s involvement in all this a few weeks ago, and for that I apologized to him and accepted his decision to never speak to me again.
Now it is your turn to apologize, Sheriff Strength. You let Scott Peebles down, you let the department down and you let your community down.
If, and I mean if, your good friend Freddie Sanders is able to pull the fat out of the fire in November and somehow beat Roundtree, he can certainly repair the damage done to the department, and perhaps keep damage from being done to the community. But he can never fix what you broke, and that was your word to support Peebles the same way Webster supported you.
Scott deserved it, you promised it and, because you failed to deliver, the county now faces the possibility of a law enforcement agency led by a man you should have fired a few years ago. But that is a column for another day.You Might Also Like: