Folly Beach public safety director resigns

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCIV) -- Folly Beach Public Safety Director Dennis Brown has resigned from his position. His last day will be June 18, he said.

According to Brown, a pair of interim leaders will move into place in his absence.

The mayor says when Brown leaves on June 18, Lt. Andrew Gilreath will supervise police, while veteran fireman Steve Mims will guide firefighters until a new public safety leader is hired.

Brown has been Folly Beach's public safety director since 2011. He came under fire in 2012 for a beach riot over the Fourth of July weekend.

Mayor Tim Goodwin says he received notice of Brown's resignation on Wednesday.

While he wasn't completely surprised at the announcement, the mayor says he hoped Brown's departure wouldn't have come during the busy summer tourist season.

"Chief Brown came in here and he did a good job. He did a difficult job. Anytime you have change its not always welcome by all sides," said Goodwin.

The mayor gives credit to Brown for building what he believes is a better Department of Public Safety. From raising firefighting standards to community policing projects, the mayor believe Chief Brown made a positive impact when he was hired in April 2011.

"The town didn't feel like it had that at the time and we've had a lot of work in that direction and it's really helped. The police officers get to know the citizens and the citizens get to know them," explained Goodwin.

Two years ago, Brown was criticized for his department's handling of a fight that broke out on the beach during the Fourth of July holiday.

And some officers have complained about low morale in the department. Still, Goodwin hopes to hire another qualified candidate who will become active in the community like Brown and his wife.

"They came in. They took part in the community. They bought a house and lived here. Bought a condo and lived here. You know, that's all great and that's the things that you want, especially in a small town," said Goodwin.

Workers at Snapper Jack's Restaurant on Center Street hope a new public safety director takes care of all citizens.

"A police chief with the best interests in everyone, for everyone, locals, tourists, you know. No discrimination is important to me," said Jude Gelber, a waitress at the restaurant.

Brown wasn't available for comment but he did issue a statement thanking residents and visitors for a memorable three years.

Goodwin says there's no timetable for hiring a replacement.