ABC News 4 had a piece yesterday about a Folly Beach police officer that is fighting to get his job back after being suspended, but the real story is why he lost his job in the first place.
The officer, Ronald Avallone, was suspended because his actions resulted in the "delayed arrest of a serious criminal." On June 23rd Avallone responded to a situation on the beach where a man was accused of sexually assaulting a young girl. Inexplicably the man was not arrested and was only escorted off the beach. After leaving the beach the suspect allegedly sexually assaulted another woman at a pool near his condo complex.
This shocking story perfectly illustrates my point that there is plenty wrong on Folly Beach and it's not just the alcohol. Early last month I said that the alcohol ban wouldn't solve any of the city's real issues. I felt a stronger police force with higher visibility would have not only prevented the brawl on July 4th, but also would have curbed other crimes. This new report demonstrates exactly what I was saying. The real problems were not being addressed.
Folly Beach has always had this laid-back, "hey, we're a little kooky out here" vibe to it. In fact, the city prided itself on its counterculture atmosphere especially in comparison to the sometimes stuffy culture of nearby neighborhoods. It seems this attitude is what slowly bred the current situation.
Now that the drunk and rowdy out-of-towners are gone, Folly's REAL problems are coming to light.
Earlier this week we found out that the police needed an incentive program to actually pursue drunk drivers and now it seems some of them may need a refresher course on how to do their job at all.
Because of their incompetence, a woman was sexually assaulted by a man who they should have arrested earlier in the day. It's unacceptable.
The alcohol may be off the beach, but all the other problems remain on Folly Beach. Not to mention that at least one local business is already struggling due to the booze ban. As I said last month, the uproar over the July 4th brawl has only led to a rash decision that has solved absolutely nothing. I only hope the Folly residents rally around these issues like they did the alcohol "problem."
***UPDATE 8/28/12 *** The Post & Courier has a story updating this situation. Avallone defended his actions by saying he was not aware of the alleged first assault. A grievance committee will decide his fate.
Whatever the truth is, the Folly Beach Police Department dropped the ball and my original point remains.
***UPDATE 9/19/12***: ABC News 4 just broke the news that the Folly Beach Grievance Committee recommended Avallone's suspension be overturned.
***UPDATE 10/10/12*** ABC News 4 says the Folly Beach council has upheld the suspension by a 6-to-1 vote.