BALOG COLUMN: Folly has chance to set things right
Folly Beach Public Safety Officer Ron Avalloneís suspension offers many opportunities for second chances.
Avallone was the responding officer on June 23, when a suspect eventually identified as Folly Beach resident Fred Rogers, 67, was accused of assaulting a teenage girl on the beach.
Avallone said he didnít know Rogers was accused of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, because the call was dispatched as a suspicious male on the beach. So Avallone ushered Rogers away and left for another call.
Unfortunately, Rogers then had a second chance to allegedly assault someone else, this time a neighbor at his condo complex.
That woman didnít want Rogers to have a chance to allegedly assault someone else, so she and her husband reported the incident, and Rogers was arrested.
Avallone was suspended for not taking appropriate action during his first contact with Rogers.
The two-member grievance committee reviewed Avalloneís case and recommended that his weeklong unpaid suspension be overturned. Thatís what they said in their report, which the city inexplicably waited 24 hours to produce after The Post and Courier submitted a Freedom of Information Act request.
Committee members Aaron Pope and Mary Cunningham said, among other things, that the records submitted for the hearing were either incomplete or irrelevant. Pope noted that he was not making a decision on Avalloneís actions on June 23, only on the weakness of the evidence and the lack of prior records in Avalloneís file.
Cunningham cited an improper internal investigation, conducted according to the cityís employee personnel handbook as opposed to its policy and procedures manual.
And she noted emphatically in her report that ďThe only official personnel file is in the City of Folly Beach Human Resource Department.Ē
City Council will meet Oct. 9 to decide whether to overturn Avalloneís suspension and give him a second chance.
Avalloneís supervisor, Sgt. Andrew Gilreath, would probably argue that Avallone already got a second chance. Thatís because Gilreath wanted to fire Avallone. So itís no wonder that Avallone wants to be transferred to another supervisor.
Whatever happens Oct. 9, Folly might do well to examine some other opportunities for second chances.
Thereís a second chance to make sure dispatchers are communicating all the information officers need when they respond to a call.
Thereís a second chance for Gilreath and Director of Public Safety Dennis Brown to consider whether itís a good idea to make telephone contact with witnesses testifying in a grievance hearing on the day of the hearing.
And thereís a second chance for Folly officials to do a better job respecting not just the intent but the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act. Actually, lots of places need a second chance at that.
Reach Melanie Balog at email@example.com.