Beaufort County public safety director to oversee jail again

zmurdock@beaufortgazette.comMay 16, 2014 

Phil Foot

STAFF PHOTO

Public safety director Phil Foot will be reinstated as director of the Beaufort County Detention Center next week, according to county officials, but he might hold that job only temporarily.

Foot was removed from supervising the detention center in December and moved to a work location away from the jail after he was cited by the county for a "protocol violation" shortly after the arrest of his 21-year-old stepdaughter.

The S.C. Attorney General's Office announced this month it would not file charges against Foot following an investigation by the S.C. Law Enforcement Division.

"(On Wednesday) we got the official letter from the Attorney General's Office saying that everything was OK and that they found no improprieties," county administrator Gary Kubic said Thursday. The county will not pursue further disciplinary action against Foot, he said.

However, county leaders will review the incident with Foot and staff to determine whether changes to detention center protocol are needed, Kubic said.

"I don't think we've done that yet, simply because when it happened, we took (Foot) out to keep it objective and neutral for the first phase of the investigation (by SLED)," Kubic said. "Now that he's back, we can have a discussion as to matching what protocols are in place and how they may or may not apply to that event."

Until that internal review is completed, Kubic will not comment on or describe the incident. A report on SLED's investigation was not immediately available Friday.

On Dec. 2, Foot was placed on paid administrative leave for one week after county officials learned of the "protocol violation." Foot returned to work Dec. 9 but has been working in the county government annex in the Beaufort Industrial Village, away from the detention center, Kubic said.

Meanwhile, Foot will return to his previous office location and resume his duties overseeing the jail, but for how long is unclear, Kubic said. Earlier this month, the county posted a notice on its website soliciting applications for the detention center director's position.

Public safety and detention center directors previously have been separate jobs, deputy county administrator Bryan Hill said. Foot was detention center director when he took over the public safety director's duties after William Winn left the post in 2011, Hill added.

"We've had Phil actually doing double duty," he said. "He can't do the detention center and give enough love to the other six departments within public safety."

For that reason, the county intends to a hire a new jail director to support Foot, Kubic said.

Maj. Charles Allen, deputy director of the detention center, has been in charge of the jail since Foot was put on leave, Hill said. Allen will return to his deputy director's duties, Kubic added.

Also returning to work earlier this month was Foot's wife, Suezanne Foot, the agent in charge of the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services' Beaufort County office. In January, she was suspended for a "possible legal matter," according to department spokesman Peter O'Boyle.

Suezanne Foot has been reinstated, is now working in the Columbia office but will return to the Beaufort location, O'Boyle has said. It was not immediately clear when that move would happen and whether she would return to the agent-in-charge position, he has said.

Suezanne Foot's daughter was arrested Dec. 1, one day before Phil Foot was placed on paid leave.

According to a Beaufort Police Department report and jail records, she was in the Beaufort Downtown Marina parking lot on Bay Street when a man was charged with attempted murder Nov. 30. That charge was later dropped.

At the time, police ordered her to leave the scene, but she was arrested more than 24 hours later and almost immediately released, jail records indicate.

No information on why she was arrested more than 24 hours after the incident was included in the police report. However, Hill called Kubic on the afternoon of Nov. 30 -- between the incident and the arrest -- to alert him of a protocol violation involving Phil Foot, Kubic has said.

County and state officials will not say if the investigation of Phil Foot is connected to his stepdaughter's arrest, nor will they say if the changes in Suezanne Foot's job status are connected to that incident.

Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.

Related content:

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service