CHESTER COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - A drive through Chester County in South Carolina has a way of taking you back in time. A quaint downtown with weathered storefronts, surrounded by winding back roads, makes you think of the simpler days.
But the once quiet community now has big problem; rising crime and gang violence is aggressively invading in the area.
That's a big undertaking for a small government and in Chester County, justice begins an ends in the law enforcement center. A sizable sheriff enforces laws a magistrate maintains, right down the hall.
Alex and Angel Underwood share more than just office space and the task of taking down criminals; they share a last name.
The two make up Chester County's very own power couple. The husband and wife have an unrelenting love for the very thing that brought them together. The couple met while they were investigators for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
"He just couldn't believe I didn't know who he was. He said, come on now you worked for the Sheriff's Office, you worked for Probation Pro, you never knew who Big A was? Come on. Everybody knows who Big A was," Angel said. Alex quickly followed up by denying his wife's accusations.
The pair may joke about their past, but the Underwoods take their present mission quite seriously by making Chester County a safer place.
"I think it's something that you're born with. You have to really love it because it doesn't pay a lot of money and you have to have thick skin," Angel said.
That thick skin was put to the test last fall when investigators say gang members shot and killed Chester City Councilman Odell Williams. Big A didn't hold back then and he's not holding back now.
"If you've got the nerve to threaten the Sheriff and threaten the Magistrate and threaten my guys, then the citizens of Chester County really must be living in fear," Alex said.
The Underwood's say those threats weren't fruitless.
"When we first started out, they killed my dog. My dog was poisoned. Just because people didn't want him or think he deserved to run for Sheriff," Angel said.
The two have no doubt they're prepared to handle the threats they've received.
"We're probably the only house in Chester that's got a gun in the bathroom, a gun in the bedroom, a gun in the kitchen, a gun in the washroom and a gun in the garage," Alex said.
But that's not the only uphill battle the Sheriff says he's facing. Alex tells WBTV he's become a victim of the political machine.
"Because I'm not a good old boy and I don't kiss up to certain people then you hold it against my agency? It is what it is," Alex said.
Alex says County Council members have denied his requests for the funding and resources he insists his department needs.
"I'll always stand up for the people that are right. I'm going to always put the ones in jail that are wrong. And I don't care if your uncle's the senator, legislator, another politician. We are going to treat people fair," Alex said.
When asked if they're a power couple, Angel said, "I guess if you say power, power in the ability to make a difference."
That's what the couple says they'll keep doing, hoping to bring a little peace and quiet back to Chester County.
"When you take on this role it's not about you anymore. It's about the people you serve. There's just two of us, but there's about 30,000 other people in Chester," Angel said.
We asked if Alex is considering another run for sheriff in 2016. He says he enjoyed his previous occupation, which was being retired, but it's not out of the question.