Johnston Co. DSS under fire

December 10, 2011 5:39:36 AM PST
Johnston County Social Services has been under fire. They are accused by the sheriff of not responding after hours to help kids in crisis.

Both the sheriff and DSS officials met behind closed doors Friday in Smithfield.

One of the county commissioners thinks things are now good again and communication was to blame. He hopes it will not happen again. However, he admits DSS has had "several incidents."

In the latest incident, a 6-year-old boy was left alone for seven hours and the sheriff says DSS never came out to help.

This was the call that started it all:

Caller: "Yes, I need someone to come out here."

Caller:" I came to my mom's house because I've been calling her all day and she has my kids. I have four kids."

Caller: "My little boy, he's 6-years-old and is here by himself and he said he got off the school bus and nobody was here and he didn't know where they were at."

In a 911 call, a frantic mother whose little boy was left alone for hours is heard talking about the confusing circumstances. However, what is known is that the Sheriff's Department went to help out and when they called Child Protective Services to help out too, they never showed.This isn't the first time this has happened. It's the third. Last summer, Trooper Jack Thorpe got the call that changed his life forever. He pulled over a car where three kids were being abused and beaten.

"When we called Johnston County Child Protective Services, they told us they'd get back with us... and then we waited for 2.5 hours," said Thorpe.

After hours in the hot sun, Thorpe says he was told by DSS that it wasn't their case either. So, Thorpe took those kids home to his own house while he waited for the children's mother.

Now, change is being promised and a county commissioner says, after an intense meeting Friday morning, everyone now is on the same page.

"Well, one of the things that I think Earl [Marett] talked about was adding some additional staff, in the after hours. Again, being proactive... and getting out to the scene as quickly as possible," said Johnston County Commissioner Jeffrey Carver.

ABC11 did reach out to DSS Director Earl Marett, who didn't return any calls.

As for Thorpe, last year he received the Governor's Award for his heroic action.

The sheriff, meanwhile, says this will now be a test to see if it happens again.

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