SLED investigating Beaufort County public safety director

zmurdock@beaufortgazette.comJanuary 17, 2014 

Phil Foot

STAFF PHOTO

An investigation of Beaufort County's public safety director has been turned over to the S.C. Law Enforcement Division, according to county officials.

Last month, public safety director Phil Foot was placed on paid administrative leave for one week for what county administrator Gary Kubic called a "violation regarding protocol matters."

Kubic first alerted the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office of the violation Dec. 2, but the office chose to turn the case over to SLED, Sheriff P.J. Tanner said.

"I just didn't feel right about doing it because of our relationship with the county," Tanner said.

Foot's duties include overseeing the Beaufort County Detention Center, but he does not report to the Sheriff's Office.

SLED will report its findings to 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone when it completes its review, but Stone said his office has not yet received that report or an indication of when it would be completed.

Foot's 21-year-old stepdaughter was arrested Dec. 1, one day before he was placed on paid leave. Kubic would not say whether the incidents are related, and Foot declined to comment Friday.

According to a Beaufort Police Department report and jail records, Foot's stepdaughter was in the Beaufort Downtown Marina parking lot on Bay Street when Matthew Guldner, 21, was charged with attempted murder early Nov. 30.

At the time, Beaufort police ordered her to leave the parking lot, but she was arrested more than 24 hours later, at 8:15 a.m. Dec. 1 on a warrant for public drunkenness, according to the police report. Less than an hour after her arrest, Foot's stepdaughter was released from jail, jail records indicate.

No information on why Foot's stepdaughter was arrested more than 24 hours after the incident was included in the police report. Beaufort police were investigating a "possible irregularity" in the arrest of Foot's stepdaughter, Cpl. Hope Able said at the time.

Deputy county administrator Bryan Hill called Kubic on the afternoon of Nov. 30 -- between the incident and the arrest -- to alert him of a protocol violation involving Foot, Kubic said.

Kubic, who had been traveling, said when he returned to work Dec. 2, he alerted Tanner and placed Foot on paid administrative leave.

Foot returned to work Dec. 9 but is not supervising the jail during the investigation, Kubic said. For now, Foot is working in the Beaufort County Government Annex in the Beaufort Industrial Village, away from the jail, Kubic added.

"Pending an investigation, I don't see the reason to put him on paid administrative leave," Kubic said. "I still want to use him, but right now he's not involved in anything related to the detention center."

Maj. Charles Allen, deputy director of the detention center, has been in charge of the jail since Foot was put on leave, Kubic said.

Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.

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