Roundtree and Peebles: Batman and Robin or Oscar and Felix?
Regular readers of this column were not shocked last week when Scott Peebles announced he was “voting” for Richard Roundtree for sheriff in November. Surprised at the timing, maybe, but not shocked by the statement. I certainly was not, and this was what I posted on my work side Facebook page the instant the news hit: Peebles endorses Roundtree. I don’t agree, but I understand the mindset. This is probably a move to set Tree up as “Charlie Webster, Jr.”… with the leadership and investigative heart and soul of the dept. sticking around to work, and Tree doing the politicking, baby kissing, and press interviews. That is one thing Richard has over Webster, he is well spoken on camera. Webster was a leader in title only… Strength, Hatfield, Autrey, Powell, etc. did all the heavy lifting. This could work for RC if Tree accepts the premise. While I think the above observation is about as straightforward as it can be, there are some Peebles supporters who feel like Scott betrayed them in some way. While I cannot speak for what may or may not existed as far as a “bond of trust” between Captain Peebles and individual supporters, I understand why he is apparently choosing to stick around, and his reluctance to take what would likely be a futile stand against his friend and former colleague. Augusta is Scott’s home. His wife and children are here, and he has extended family here and close by. He knows the town like the back of his hand, and he has made a career on his home turf working to lock up the worst human elements known to man. He has served with honor, distinction and success. Among the many individuals who joined the department around the same time he did, there are few still moving up the ladder, and only one comes to mind that has been even close when it comes to keeping up. (For those of you playing along at home, that would be Captain Scott Gay.) When the RC Sheriff’s Department consolidated with the Augusta Police Department in the mid ‘90s, Tree and Peebles were both thought by many to be young stars on the rise, and they were. Working together during serious investigations, it is said by those who know them well that they were at their best when they teamed up; because they had such different styles and perspectives, it appeared all bases seemed to be covered. The accolades and anecdotes that follow such questions about their time together almost sound like a season’s worth of scripts for a TV cop show, but there was a genuine camaraderie there, and call it what you want, but it seemed to work. Peebles’ work ethic and respect for detail and the rulebook meant that he was promoted faster, and taken more seriously than Roundtree. But that is not a dig at Roundtree; truth be told, Peebles was the overachiever among his peers. Every group has one. In all of the concerns and questions that have arisen over Tree’s lack of management skills and maturity in duty, virtually no one has ever accused him of being dumb. As a matter of fact, his (former) fellow officers were always quite impressed with his common sense and street smarts. It comes as no surprise that Roundtree and Peebles consider themselves friends and not enemies, so why is it unnatural to think that the two have figured out a way to make it work if Tree is in fact elected boss in November? Unless he completely trashes the rank system that is in place (and he says privately he won’t), Roundtree will only have two upper management positions that he can fill of his own personal choosing, chief deputy, and department colonel. (Gary Powell is the current colonel, and he tells me he has no desire to retire immediately; current Chief Deputy Sid Hatfield is planning on hitting the door with retiring Sheriff Ronnie Strength at the end of the year.) Virtually all other high-ranking positions will be filled by those that must come up through the ranks, and unless there is wholesale tomfoolery afoot, Tree will likely have the team that Peebles would have had (minus the requisite chief deputy) had the election gone his way. As I pointed out last week, what we may end up with is Tree taking the caretaker role that Charlie Webster had when he was sheriff, which actually fits him better than it did Webster. For those of you saying Peebles has been bought off with the promise of a job, all I can tell you is that you don’t know Scott Peebles. Augusta is his home, and he does not want to leave the community he knows and loves. Besides, he is making 70k this year as a captain. In Atlanta, a sergeant makes 75k a year. With his record and connections, he could secure a similar job with better pay almost anywhere. If I were living in Richmond County, I would vote for Tree’s opponent Freddie Sanders. He is a brilliant man, and a real hard ass when it comes to the criminal element. He has the advantage over Roundtree in maturity, management experience and toughness. Funny thing though; with either guy, you are going to get Peebles as well. Looks like a win either way.You Might Also Like: