Public safety director won't be punished after SLED report

zmurdock@beaufortgazette.comJuly 11, 2014 

Phil Foot


Beaufort County public safety director Phil Foot will not face further discipline after a review of a state investigative report, according to county administrator Gary Kubic.

However, Foot's jail-operation duties will remain limited, Kubic said. The county is searching for a new detention center director, who will take over the daily jail duties Foot once performed.

"I'm putting it to bed," Kubic said. "My bigger problem is making sure I get the right candidate into the (jail) director's position."

Kubic sent a letter to The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette on Thursday saying he had reviewed the report from the State Law Enforcement Division and had decided to take no further action against Foot.

The report included more than 100 pages of material and two hours of surveillance footage gathered by SLED during a monthlong investigation in December. The investigation came after Foot had retrieved his 21-year-old step-daughter from the county jail before she was booked Nov. 30 on a charge of public drunkenness. In May, the S.C. Attorney General's office announced it would not file criminal charges against Foot after reviewing the investigation.

The county put Foot on paid administrative leave for a week after the incident, moved his office away from the jail to the Beaufort Industrial Village and halted his jail oversight duties. After it was announced he would not face criminal charges, the county reinstated Foot to his duties, but has limited his oversight of the jail.

Attempts to reach Foot for comment Friday were unsuccessful.

Kubic said it was unclear whether Foot violated any county policy or procedure so no disciplinary action is merited.

After the incident, the county instituted a new rule prohibiting off-duty personnel from entering the jail's "sally port" -- the secure entrance where officers deliver those under arrest to the jail, Kubic said. That is the area where Foot and his wife, Suezanne, retrieved his step-daughter from a Beaufort police officer who had arrested her.

"(The incident) was a series of unfortunate events where probably better judgment by a whole hell of a lot of people -- and I don't manage all of them -- could have been better," Kubic said.

Kubic added that before the jail incident, Foot had an exemplary employment record after more than two decades with the county.

Deputy county administrator Bryan Hill and deputy jail director Maj. Charles Allen are managing daily jail operations during the search for a director, Hill said, and Foot is focusing on his broader duties directing the Public Safety Division.

Foot had led the detention center since 2005 and took over the additional duties of public safety director in 2011. The public safety director oversees the directors of several departments, including the jail, emergency management, building inspections, codes enforcement, and animal and mosquito control operations.

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