ABC officer's wife protests liquor rescue during hurricane

How much is a police officer's life worth? That's the question a Greenville woman is asking.

The State Alcohol Beverage Control Board sent her husband - an ABC enforcement officer - into the path of Hurricane Dennis to save some cases of liquor. Susan Rhodes says that's a bad decision and she's speaking out.

Rhodes says for the most part, she likes her husband's boss.

"Very much so," she said. "I think he's done a great deal of improvements for the ABC Board."

But she's not happy with what happened as Hurricane Dennis got close.

"We moved approximately three thousand cases of whiskey," said Emory Folmar.

Folmar ordered Rhodes' husband and other ABC enforcement agents to South Alabama to pack and move several stores alcohol stocks. Rhodes says the call came just hours before landfall during a mandatory evacuation.

"If the Governor thinks it's important enough to order a voluntary evacuation on Friday, then on Friday, we should be shutting down stores and moving that liquor," Rhodes said.

Folmar says he wanted to sell liquor until the last minute.

"We had people in Baldwin and Mobile county who wanted to buy whiskey and I didn't want to miss a sale," he said.

Rhodes scoffs at that. "To me that's just not a life sustaining product. That's not water, that's not batteries," she said.

But Folmar has a point, too. If a store is damaged and bottle of booze gets wet, the state can't sell it, and must absorb the loss. When Ivan hit, that cost Alabama a thousand cases of alcohol, about $250,000.

Folmar defends his decision.

"We figured it was our job to protect the taxpayers' money so I sent a big team to take care of it," he explained.

But Rhodes say when you consider that the Board sells more than $225 million of booze every year, is saving $200,000 a good investment if it means sending officers into a hurricane zone?

She said, "If my husband has to go evacuate people or rescue people, I'm gonna suck it up and I'll understand. But to me, liquor is not that big of a problem."

Rhodes also questions Folmar's decision to put officers inside darkened liquor stores to guard them after Dennis knocked out power. Folmar says that was to prevent looting.

Mrs. Rhodes says Folmar wouldn't need to put officers in more danger if they put up steel doors over ABC entrances. Rhodes says she plans to ask the governor to listen to her ideas to protect officers. She expects her husband - a 20 year veteran officer - will want to stay with the board no matter what happens.