It has been a busy ten months since I took office in January. I want to thank the citizens of Rockdale County for all of their continued support. Hopefully everyone can see that the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office is working hard to become a 21st century law enforcement organization.
At the RCSO, combating crime is our number one priority. Since the first of the year, I have implemented several initiatives with the overarching goal to make Rockdale County safer.
The RCSO’s Criminal Interdiction Unit is now active. The CIU team consists of a sergeant, three deputies, and three K-9 units. Their primary duties are to concentrate on narcotics, burglaries, thefts, money laundering, weapons violations, kidnappings, assaults, robbery, murder, stolen vehicles, and fugitive apprehensions.
Another effort that has already shown its benefit is having a deputy assigned to the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force. Since Deputy Baker has been assigned to the SERFTF, we have had huge successes in locating and arresting several dangerous criminals hiding in Rockdale County and other areas. Another implementation designed to help us combat crime is the use of CompStat, which helps the RCSO identify crime trends and assign deputies to areas where criminal activity is occurring.
Improving the equipment used by RCSO deputies was another top priority when I took office. We have been working hard to get deputies the necessary equipment to do their jobs. Earlier in the year, we bought new bullet proof vests to replace expired and torn vests that deputies were still wearing. We have also now transitioned to the new fourth generation Glock handguns to give deputies the latest firearm technology. I am currently working with Board of Commissioners on purchasing new patrol vehicles to replace many of the high mileage vehicles in our current fleet.
Many of you have probably seen or heard of my efforts to get our deputies a raise in pay in order to make their salaries competitive with other law enforcement agencies. Earlier in the year I conducted a pay study that showed that RCSO deputies ranked 51st out of 57 law enforcement agencies in the metro Atlanta area in terms of pay. For too long, the RCSO has been used as a training ground for deputies, only to see the good ones leave for higher pay when they go years without raises here. I have asked the BOC to give our deputies the pay raise they deserve, which will ultimately help the RCSO keep highly trained deputies here in Rockdale County to keep the citizens safe. By retaining deputies, it will save tax payers money in the long run by not having to keep spending money to train new deputies when the veteran deputies leave for higher paying jobs after we pay to train them.
I will continue to work hard at making this county safer and am excited about some of the upcoming efforts of the RCSO. In the coming weeks, the RCSO will roll out new predictive policing software to help with our efforts to combat crime. The RCSO will be the first Sheriff’s Office in the state of Georgia to use this predictive policing program, and we are excited to see the results. This new software also includes a public crime map that the citizens of Rockdale County can use to see the criminal activity that is occurring in the county as a whole and in the area that they live in.
I am also implementing the Salem Road initiative to fight crime in that area beginning the week of Thanksgiving.
Another upcoming event for the RCSO is the first town hall meeting that I plan to hold on Dec. 12 at 7 pm at the Rockdale County Auditorium. I will be able to speak with citizens about their concerns for the county. This will be the first of many town hall meetings. More information about the upcoming town hall meetings and other events will continue to be available on our Facebook page.
In closing, I want to wish everyone a safe and happy upcoming holiday season. As a reminder, while attending holiday gatherings, do not drink and drive. Having a designated driver will keep everyone on the roads safe. Do not let a bad decision ruin your holiday season.
Sheriff Eric Levett