McDaniel was once the public information officer for the sheriff’s office, and he stunned many local Augustans in February by posting several scathing remarks about Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree’s leadership style.
“I am sitting back and watching (with a HUGE SMILE) some GREAT & INTELLIGENT people leave a cesspool of an agency. Congrats to you courageous people for standing up for what’s right for YOU. You men and women deserve so much more… And you definitely deserve a better leader,” McDaniel posted on Facebook in February. “If a leader doesn’t understand the concept of ‘service above self,’ they will not gather the trust, confidence and loyalty of their subordinates. Any leader is only as good as his or her team’s desire to be led by them. An over abundance of EGO, PRIDE and ARROGANCE are NOT positive leadership traits. Real leaders take the blame and give the credit — not the other way around. Long story short: if a leader receives a vote of non-confidence from their subordinates… Then the subordinates WILL seek alternatives.”
Well, apparently McDaniel had a lot more to say about Roundtree and the sheriff’s office.
This past Sunday, McDaniel was a guest on WGAC’s “Law Talk” radio show hosted by local attorney P.J. Campanaro.
During the hour-long program, he discussed the growing number of veteran officers who are leaving the sheriff’s office due to low morale. And he didn’t hold back.
McDaniel insisted there was some “very negative stuff” happening within the sheriff’s office.
“For example, enforcing policy and procedure 50 percent of the time and turning a blind eye the other 50 percent of the time,” McDaniel stated on the air. “Or promotions. Promoting people that are just strictly not qualified. That happened several times recently.”
McDaniel said that the sheriff’s office is “bypassing” people who are college educated or have “serious tenure” and, instead, the sheriff is promoting officers who are not qualified for the higher ranking positions.
He said these tenured officer could do the job with “their eyes closed,” but they are not being seriously considered for these positions.
“That’s almost a slap in the face,” McDaniel said, adding that he believes the “good ol’ boy system” is still affecting the sheriff’s office.
“You still have the good ol’ boy system under this regime,” he stated. “It’s just a different regime.”
As a result, McDaniel said that many of the officers within the sheriff’s department are not being treated fairly.
“It’s not fair to those who have put in the time,” he said. “It’s not fair to those who have gotten their education. There is one guy right now, he’s working on his master’s degree and does a fantastic job.”
But this individual is being ignored within the department because he’s not part of Roundtree’s regime, McDaniel said.
As the conversation continued, McDaniel was asked whether he believed the regime within the sheriff’s office fell along “racial lines.”
McDaniel paused for a moment, and then said he didn’t really feel comfortable answering that question.
“For me, it wasn’t racial. Now, do I see things happening along racial lines?” McDaniel asked. “It can be interpreted that way. Yes. It can.”
But McDaniel insisted that the problems within the sheriff’s department aren’t centered on race.
“I’m saying some of the people who have been promoted, don’t meet the qualifications to be a supervisor,” McDaniel said. “Now, what other deputies and other supervisors are telling me, they are venting to me that they think those folks are being promoted based on race. That’s some of their opinions. They have told me that.”
McDaniel said it’s a shame because he, at one time, thought he had a good working relationship with Roundtree prior to him becoming sheriff.
“I considered the sheriff a friend of mine because we went back to the old Augusta Police Department days together,” McDaniel said. “We were on the same shift at one point. We were privates together. I considered him a friend.”
But now, McDaniel said he no longer speaks to the sheriff.
In fact, he was surprised that Roundtree regularly insists on a closed-door policy in his department.
“I have not spoken with the sheriff,” McDaniel said. “He usually, the majority of the time, keeps his door closed. When I was employed there as a sergeant in internal affairs, … I only went up there if it was strictly work related, and I would have to knock on his door.”
It’s pretty bad when your own staff feels like you’re unapproachable.
As an elected official, the sheriff needs to listen to his veteran officers before it’s too late because McDaniel said the morale in the department is so tremendously low right now that he hears from discouraged officers on a regular basis.
“My cellphone has been blowing up for the last several weeks,” McDaniel said. “Since leaving the sheriff’s office, I feel like a whole new person. I feel great. I feel relieved. I am stress free.”
But McDaniel said he still feels bad for his former colleagues within the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office who are stuck in a no-win situation.
“I wish I could do something to help them out because those men and women work their butts off,” McDaniel said. “Those are the real workhorses.”