North Myrtle Beach, SC - NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Former North Myrtle Beach Director of Public Safety William Bailey says informal chats with city administrators led to what he says is now misleading information and unfair accusations.
Bailey had been placed on administrative leave after an investigation revealed a handgun stolen out of his personal vehicle was not properly secured.
"My truck got broken into and my gun got stolen. Where I went wrong is I left my gun in the truck and I left my truck unlocked," Bailey said.
Bailey says it's what happened after his gun was stolen that has added to controversy.
"There was a conversation that morning that was informal. And that took place with who? With city administrators, in a very casual information," Bailey explained. "There's never been an investigation by the city, about my, well I'm not going to say never, but in the front end of this the city never did an investigation on my gun. That gun story came out in a press release and I have taken some of the responsibility of that because I could've made a better effort to make sure that information did not go out to the press."
Bailey says that information was misleading and that he never expected it to be released, noting he does take some responsibility for his actions.
Does he ever suggest his glove box was locked?
"I can't tell you that information openly until I have a full discussion with the administration, and that's just an unfortunate situation that I'm in, that we're not going to be able to cross," Bailey said. "But I have promised you that when I have had that conversation, I will come back and I will let you ask that question and I will openly discuss it."
Bailey says the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has launched an inquiry that he interfered with a different investigation than the stolen gun situation. He says he was concerned that a victim was arrested along with a suspect. Bailey says he doesn't expect SLED to find evidence for a formal investigation.
Horry County Police were dispatched to Bailey's home in December 2009 after the director reported two of his personal vehicles had been broken into between 10 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. Monday. Bailey told police he became suspicious of criminal activity after noticing his truck, parked in his driveway, had been left unlocked throughout the night.
After opening the driver's side door of the truck, a police report states Bailey found papers thrown over the seats and the glove compartment and center console opened. A handgun stored in the glove compartment, Horry County Police say, was among the items taken from the vehicle.
Bailey later discovered his wife's car, parked inside a garage, had also been tampered with. Items were strewn across the inside of the vehicle, but Bailey was unable to identify any stolen items.
Further questioning of Bailey's family revealed his son discovered what he calls a "suspicious man" in the neighborhood around 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 21. When Bailey's son pulled over his vehicle to question why the man was in the area, he said he was visiting his girlfriend.
The man then proceeded to reach into his camouflage backpack, for what Bailey's son presumed to be a gun, and drove off. Bailey's son told police he returned to his home, grabbed two baseball bats, and unsuccessfully attempted to track the unidentified man down.
North Myrtle Beach officials released a statement revealing Bailey had been placed on administrative leave after an investigation revealed his glove box did not have a lock on it. As stated in an incident report, Bailey's gun could not have been safely stored inside of his truck.
Officials say the statements made by Bailey misled North Myrtle Beach administration about the security of the weapon.
"I take full responsibility and regret my actions regarding how the weapon was stored and the statements made by the city to media on Dec. 29, saying the weapon was secured in a locked glove box," Bailey said. "I made those statements to administration and approved their release."
North Myrtle Beach City Manager John Smithson commented, "The nature of any disciplinary action is considered a personnel matter. The City of North Myrtle Beach apologizes for the incorrect information and will be working diligently to correct it and the actions taken by Director Bailey."
In a statement prepared by the City of North Myrtle Beach, spokeswoman Nicole Aiello says the stolen gun was property of North Myrtle Beach and identified it as Bailey's backup weapon. His primary weapon was in his possession at the time of the incident.
Aiello says it is now Bailey's responsibility to pay for and replace the stolen semi-automatic handgun.
Horry County Police say Bailey's report adds to five others filed on breaking and entering complaints in the Little River subdivision.