Ridgeway Releases Names of Police Candidates

RIDGEWAY – Ridgeway Town Council is standing behind their recent hire of a former S.C. Highway Patrolman who was arrested last October on assault and battery charges and has released a comprehensive list of applicants for the position.

Council voted unanimously to hire Greg Miller as a part-time police officer Jan. 10. Miller had been with the Highway Patrol since 2007, but was terminated Oct. 5 following his arrest in a Sept. 17 incident on Sandpine Road in Columbia where Miller allegedly assaulted a former girlfriend at her home.

Donald Prioleau, who headed up the search for a part-time officer, said that to the best of Council’s knowledge, Miller was never charged in the alleged incident. Furthermore, Prioleau added, Miller was the most qualified applicant for the job.

“I can sleep comfortably at night knowing I made the right decision,” Prioleau said. “I believe everyone deserves a second chance.”

A spokesperson for the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, however, confirmed that Miller was indeed charged on Oct. 15. The charges were later dropped, the Sheriff’s Department said, upon request of the victim.

Between the time of his arrest and the time of his formal charge, Miller was “dismissed” by the S.C. Highway Patrol, according to a spokesperson for that agency, on Oct. 5. Miller’s application for the Ridgeway position, however, states that he retired from the Highway Patrol.

According to the Town of Ridgeway’s application form, “falsified statements on this application shall be considered sufficient cause for termination.”

“I didn’t know about the firing part,” Prioleau said. “But if they fired him, how could he retire? He’s listed as being retired from the Highway Patrol.”

Miller beat out six other candidates for the job, including Donald Johnson, of Winnsboro; Damian Antonio White, of Columbia; and Richard L. Von Drasek, of Wisconsin.

Johnson served with the Chester Police Department from April 2011 to August 2012, the S.C. Department of Mental Health Police from May 2007 to March 2011 and with the Elgin Police Department from February 2004 to April 2007.

White served with the Columbia Police Department from September 2002 to November 2011. Von Drasek served with the Wisconsin State Fair Police Department from 1997 to 2001, the U.S. Marshalls Service from 1997-2002 and with the Thiensville (Wisc.) Police Department from 1998 to 2005. Von Drasek was under the impression that the Ridgeway vacancy was a full-time position, Prioleau said, at the time of his application.

Also applying for the job were George Dallas Pipkin Jr., of Lugoff; Joseph F. Robinson, of Fort Meade, MD; and Wayne D. Yates, of Winnsboro. Robinson and Pipkin had no discernible police experience in their applications, while Yates served as Chief of Public Safety for the Town of Winnsboro from 2000 to 2009.