AUGUSTA (WJBF) — A Georgia organization is at odds with the Richmond County Marshal’s Office over how much power the marshal actually has.
NewsChannel 6 first told you that marshal Ramone Lamkin wants his deputies to be more proactive by making traffic stops and arrests.
Last week, the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association sent a letter out to the marshal, the sheriff, the mayor and dozens of other Augusta officials stating that the marshal’s office doesn’t have the same law enforcement authority as the sheriff’s office.
The marshal’s office is usually responsible for the civil process at the courthouse, enforcing city ordinances for junk and litter, and the security of government buildings, but Lamkin wants his agency to do more.
“Definitely going to be more visible and proactive in our neighborhoods. We’re going to be more proactive with trying to help keep the streets clean and safe,” Lamkin said.
Lamkin says he also wants his deputies to make traffic stops, which is something they haven’t done before.
That’s why the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association sent a letter out with several legal opinions that say the marshal’s office doesn’t have the authority to make traffic stops or arrests because that power belongs to the sheriff’s office.
Lamkin says he disagrees with that opinion because his men are certified peace officers.
“Of course, our primary goal is not traffic enforcement. We have plenty of other things to do besides traffic enforcement. That’s up to the sheriff’s office and the Georgia State Patrol. But if someone does violate the law in front of a Marshal’s deputy then he has the right to pull him over and take whatever action is necessary,” Lamkin said.
Despite the fact that sheriff’s deputies are usually the ones pulling people over, sheriff Richard Roundtree doesn’t think Lamkin’s comments are that big of a deal because the marshal’s office already has a lot to deal with.
“That is not their priority. That’s not their focus, so I don’t believe those lanes are going to cross. We have an outstanding Traffic Division here, which the Marshal was apart of, help create and help build,” Roundtree said.
The Georgia Attorney General issued a legal opinion in 2005 that said marshal’s deputies don’t have the power of arrest, like police officers and sheriff’s deputies do.
However, a 2006 Georgia Supreme Court decision gave the Fayette County Marshal’s Department the same powers as a sheriff’s office.