I learn something new every day.
Just an hour ago I learned that when Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree was a young investigator, he would sometimes get help writing and editing his press releases from his then girlfriend Brandi.
Nothing wrong with that. Brandi was an incredibly bright young lady. She graduated with honors from Clark Atlanta University with a degree in mass media arts. And besides, when you are a news producer for an Augusta TV station, you tend to be good at, you know, writing and spelling and things like that.
Brandi wanted to be more than just a producer, though; she wanted to be a reporter and an anchor. I am sure the story that she assembled solely as a resume piece, the one where Investigator Roundtree dug out his old uniform and gave on-camera quotes and sounded all official and authoritative was quite helpful in getting her hired out of the market.
Her move to Columbia was definitely a step up.
Sadly for Roundtree, I am told she wanted an upgrade in “that department” too. It happens. Hell, it has happened to me plenty.
Now that was a long time ago, more than five years ago. To his credit, Roundtree got back on the horse. He was no doubt being cheered on by his colleagues, whose favorite “filly corral” back in those days was the stable of pretty young things who populated three competing TV newsrooms. (The radio and print ladies back then apparently didn’t “sparkle” quite like the TV gals.)
I have thought long and hard about listing the names of all involved, on both sides of the Thin Blue Line, but to be quite honest, since I have no proof of any wrongdoing and no specific evidence that any secrets were shared, why drag everyone’s name through the mud?
But I did take the time to count, and by the estimation of myself and a few of the young ladies involved (all have left Augusta), we figure there are at least half a dozen “men of rank” in the Richmond County Sheriff’s Department who over the last 15 years have dated at least a dozen TV news employees. (And that is only counting the ones we know about.)
There are a couple of bizarre stories that jump out of the bunch, the aforementioned situation with Roundtree was just the beginning. There was the case of one poor officer whose wife was so worried because of all the late-night phone calls that there was something naughty going on (there was not, so I hear), that she called the lady TV reporter on the carpet and demanded she “leave my husband alone!”
Then there was the case of a gorgeous young reporter whose good looks made her quite popular with several badge-wearing suitors. Sadly, the last one she dated got carried away and became obsessed with her. She told me the day she left the market that she was hoping not to end up in a body bag because of the nut. She left in the middle of the week, in the midst of a contract, and never even stepped foot back in the station. She resigned to her boss over her cell phone, driving down the interstate. A few of us followed up to make sure the maniac was written up, and he was, in fact, run out of police work.
Then there was the TV anchor who fell so deeply in love with her local cop sweetheart that when she was called up for a better assignment in a bigger city she didn’t want to go. She eventually quit TV and moved back to Augusta. Ironically, not long after that, they broke up, and the officer in question (with at least four TV news hook-ups that I know about, perhaps making him champion) was “moving on” with yet another member of the fourth estate.
At this point I am betting the ladies reading this column are disgusted beyond belief, and the men reading it are looking around for someone to high five. Men tend to be pigs.
As word of the new sheriff’s incredibly tight new media policies are starting to sink in, Augusta media veterans near and far are comparing notes and coming to the conclusion that Roundtree and his merry men are perhaps living proof that there are no more fervent saints than those who are reformed sinners. They want no more secret conversations or late night phone calls to their senior men, even if it is all business. They want no more inside information leaked or revealed, especially if it gets them in trouble with their wives. Who needs that stress?
As a practical matter, the new written policy is in some places so restrictive, as to be unconstitutional. I had a $50 wager with one officer (going to charity) that I could prove that the new RCSO policy forbidding the release of the contents of a suicide note is, in fact, contrary to law. A neighboring agency understands the law in this regard, and they sent me two such notes today, just for the asking. (The Metro Spirit was sent copies as well.)
The bottom line: Sheriff Roundtree has some good things going in the first few weeks of his administration, but he needs some professional guidance as to what is going to work and what won’t regarding his media policy. Continue to discuss and evaluate the policies in practice with the people who know our business, and we will work through the new rules.
And we will do our best to only have the media guys call your houses after dark. You Might Also Like: