Cambio break-ins burdening County

WINNSBORO – Cambio Academy in Greenbrier has been the source of numerous complaints from neighbors and, earlier this month, four juveniles from Cambio were arrested for breaking into Greenbrier United Methodist Church. During the Nov. 13 Council meeting, County Administrator Jason Taylor updated citizens on the County’s recent meeting with Cambio Academy Director Pamela Wood concerning the Academy’s mounting problems.

According to Taylor, Wood said several female teens had been inappropriately placed at Cambio. Wood identified 8-10 juveniles that she said would be better suited for a facility with a more intense level of care.

“DSS has a need to place some of these difficult clients and that’s what happened,” Taylor said. “They’re inappropriately placed at Cambio as a path of least resistance, and they probably should have been placed somewhere else.”

Currently, Taylor said he was told the doors at Cambio Academy are not kept locked. He said County officials and Wood explored ways to make the facility more secure. They looked at fencing, but according to Taylor, they were not comfortable with the placement of a barbed wire fence.

The County’s new interim fire marshal, Greg Gerber, is slated to visit Cambio to find out if a lock system or an alarm system could be the answer for the security issues. Council has a follow up meeting with Wood later this week.

“We will follow up with Mrs. Wood with a list of these things,” Taylor said. “And, hopefully, attach a time frame as to when we can hope to see improvements.”

Council Chairman Billy Smith issued a stern warning.

“I’ll just say I hope the concerns and the things that are going on now can be curtailed and corrected,” Smith said. “Because otherwise I just don’t see where we can allow that facility, without trying to do anything, to keep operating in that community in the way that it is right now.”

Cambio has not only been a source of ire for citizens, but it has created a massive workload for the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Deputies have responded to over 100 incidents at Cambio in its five-month existence, something that Councilman Douglas Pauley addressed in an editorial in the Oct.26 issue of The Voice.

“Another concern is how time consuming it has become for the Fairfield County Sheriff’s department to respond to these calls. It diverts them from other matters within the County that need their attention as well,” Pauley wrote. He said he understood that the Academy, which opened in May, 2017, was supposed to be a private residential treatment and rehabilitation center for troubled female teens ranging in age from 13 to 18.

Sheriff Will Montgomery told The Voice last week that his deputies have answered more than 100 calls related to Cambio in the last five months.

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