Former Sheriff speaks out after hundreds of arrests warrants fou - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Former Sheriff speaks out after hundreds of arrests warrants found

CHESTER COUNTY, SC (WBTV) -

Chester County's newest Sheriff Alex Underwood has been in office only 15 days, and is already dealing with a nightmare when it comes to paperwork.

A conference room table at the Law Enforcement Complex in Chester is stacked with hundreds of arrest warrants that have either been unserved or not entered into a database that tells deputies a subject has an warrant for their arrest.

"They're finding more and more everyday, I think they found another stack this morning," said Underwood.

Employees have found stacks of unsorted warrants in desk drawers, boxes and in vacant cubicles within the office.

The Sheriff said a former employee even brought in warrants she was keeping at her home.

Underwood says he believes the reasoning behind the mix-up may be more sinister than just a mistake.

'Because of friendship, family, just people that they know. People trust us to do a job and if you not gonna do it by hiding warrants, then to me that's a criminal act," said Underwood.

Some wonder if the previous sheriff know about these unserved warrants.

Former sheriff Richard Smith says he doesn't. He tells WBTV through an email "I have no knowledge about any problems with the warrants with the Sheriff's office."

He goes on to write "it is inappropriate to say anything for or against this situation while SLED is investigating."

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) says it is conducting a preliminary investigation and says after that is complete, it will determine its next move.

Some in the community are not surprised warrants have gone unserved.

"In my personal opinion," Chester resident James Simpson said. "It shows the corruption of the police department here."

Simpson claims holding on to warrants to protect alleged criminals is a way of life in Chester.

"It's all about who you know around here," Simpson said. "And who knows you. It's been like that for years, as long as I can remember and I was born and raised here."

Underwood says he's fired employees who worked for the previous administration and believes he's gotten to the root of the problem.

But he's also asked SLED to dig deeper. SLED officials say they don't know how long their investigation will take.

Copyright 2013 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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