Change in the Works at Aiken County Sheriff's Office

By: Gene Petriello Email
By: Gene Petriello Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock; April 17, 2008

AIKEN CTY, S.C. --- A case involving a Windsor couple charged with neglect highlights the need for change inside the Aiken County Sheriff's Office. Investigators arrested Benjamin and Susie Robinson Monday, but they should have been arrested within days of issuing an arrest warrant in January.

It took three months to arrest the Robinson's, but only one day for them to make bond. While they await their next court date, the grandmother of the four children is concerned for their safety.

A refrigerator is stocked up with food in Jean Cerbe's home. She says that's the way it always is, especially throughout the last six years, as she cared for her four grandchildren.

"It's very heartbreaking. Very hard for me to deal with this," says Jean.

Benjamin and Susie Robinson have their four kids back, but only after an investigation into their well-being.

They were arrested. But, turns out, it was an arrest the Aiken County Sheriff's Office says didn't come soon enough.

"We should have served these warrants in a more timely fashion and we did not," says Lt. Michael Frank with the Sheriff's Office.

Those warrants issued on January 8th, were not served until April 14th.

"We did not actively pursue them and arrest them on these outstanding warrants," says Lt. Frank.

Lt. Frank says the problem was, the couple told Investigators they would turn themselves in and they didn't.

Jean flips through a diary she keeps about her grandchildren, wishing they were with her.

"Because I love them and I've always taken care of them. I've done everything for those kids," she says.

Jean showed us a folder full of receipts. She says some of those receipts are for clothes for her grandkids. She says she always made at least 10 calls to the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

"I have told them I have evidence that I have called them on and they say, 'It's okay. Just leave them alone'," says Jean.

She might not see any changes from DSS, but the Sheriff's Office should see some changed. News 12 obtained a memo sent out on Monday to the Sheriff's Office. It was not a direct result of the Robinson's case, but was sent out on the same day the Robinson's were arrested.

"When you do obtain an arrest warrant for an individual, that you will make a valid effort to serve this in a timely manner," says Lt. Frank.

So, just how long is a timely manner?

"Within several days of obtaining an arrest warrant," he answers.

Right now, there are about 14,000 arrest warrants still out in Aiken County. That's down from about 20,000 back in 2003 when Sheriff Michael Hunt took over the agency.


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