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BALD HEAD ISLAND, NC (WWAY)– More trouble for officers at Bald Head Island.

Three more were put on probation as a result of violations of the island’s policy. On Friday we told you five officers were fired stemming from a series of text messages sent from private cell phones. Now three more put on a 90 day probation and one other officer involved resigned earlier this month.

One business owner says normally the only reason they lose public safety officers is when the officers re-locate on their own.

It’s an island only reached by ferry. That’s why local business owner John Pitera says Bald Head Island never sees much trouble.

“No, Bald Head is just such a quiet, peaceful place which we hope it stays that way,” Pitera said.

It is staffed with twenty one public safety officers here cross trained in fire, EMS, and law enforcement.

“We really like EMT’s and the EMS guys to be here if there is an emergency,” Pitera said. “All of them are just excellent.”

He says he’s only seen public safety officers leave on their own, not fired.

“In 15 years we’ve lost some, but they usually resign,” Pitera said. “They’re going somewhere else to get a better job or to do something a little more exciting, because it tends to be a little boring here.”

Friday five officers were dismissed and three officers were put on a 90 day probation.

“That’s a huge number of people that know the system here,” Pitera said.

It’s an incident no one seems to know anything about.

“Something like this, it seems to be scandalous at best or at least,” Pitera said.

The town’s public information officer, Karen Ellison, refused to go on camera, because she says it’s a personnel issue. Pitera says he just wants to know what happened.

“I hope it gets cleared up, but obviously there is something going on that they are not telling us,” he said.

Ellison did tell us that she is not worried about being under staffed. They have already started the hiring process to replace those officers.

Comment on this Story

  • 1492

    If most of this trouble originated with the sending of text messages, I doubt the cameras would have helped very much in this case.

    Not a bad idea though.

  • 1234543

    seems that the public can not trust law enforcement any more than they trust us, it is past time for cameras and voice recorders on each and every law enforcement agent in this country, that would be a positive step to instill some confidence back in the public, cheap insurance for everbody.

  • marilyn

    The problem here is a lack of confidence in the Village Manager and the Public Safety Director. The Village Manager hired a person who has less credentials than most of the officers she manages. That does not instill confidence. The Village Manager has also violated the very same Village policy about being discourteous to fellow employees, yet he still remains. Just wanted you to understand the problem here.

  • 1234543

    one thing that all government employees should be terminated for is bringing a personal cell phone or device to work and using them while on the job, that is the same thing as stealing, nothing more and nothing less, they are being paid to do a job, not fraternize, solialize, court , sext or text, so can anyone defend them for using personal devices on the taxpayer payroll?????????????/

  • Vog46

    I worked for an entity that gave us cell phones. It was for work only and the occasional emergency call from home. Different bosses had different interpretations of both ‘occasional and ’emergency but we got ‘the drift’ so to speak.

    So you use them for work and work only. Just look at celebs. Their accounts get hacked and next thing you know nekked pics are all over tweet/twit/twerk whatever that social media website is. These things get you in ‘twouble’ I guess. (Pun intended)

    Its a shame this had to happen – especially to a group of folks who do such diverse jobs…….


  • marilyn ridgeway

    These are good officers that tax payers have paid to train in three disciplines: EMD, Fire, Law Enforcement. This has been a costly change from our original Fire/EMS and a separate police department.
    The problem here is not with these officers although their text messages were private and on private ( not Village owned) phones, they do represent a fracture in our department. This has been caused by discourteous and disrespectful treatment of our public safety dept and a lesser qualified Public Safety Director who the Village Manager hired. It is difficult to work in a department when you have no one watching your back;that is essential in a public safety department.
    We need to get rid of the bad management in Village Hall not good officers. If we have a major fire here, we are understaffed. Karen Ellison is telling the truth when she says we are staffed. We are supposed to have two paramedics on duty at all shift. We have had one. We were all ready down two officers so that means we are seven short. The 21 officers she is talking about include part timers who are not available for additional shifts because often they are working at another department. Some part timers do not know the island: some part timers are former officers here who left because they sought better working environments or were offered better jobs after they have served two years here to pay back their training that we paid for. Hope this shows what the true problems are and gives you a better understanding of the situation island residents are facing.

  • Rusty

    So I assume from your stance you always leave all of your personal electronic devices in your vehicle when you go to work and never check them until after your shift?

  • wonder who

    Who were they? if they have been charged with DWI or domestic violence you would have posted their names

  • CitizenJason

    Maybe they should be charged with “Failure To Be A Good Ole Boy”. Maybe we should have a public hearing. So the tax-payers can see if the power, entrusted to the “leaders”, might be getting abused. Are all these standards being applied to everyone ?

    Some of these “reasons” sound real slim. Maybe the bosses employers,(the citizens) should demand the full truth. This looks so much like what happed in Leland.

    We are dealing with people’s lives here. For all I know. Maybe all of them were wrong; terribly, and had to be fired. Though official reasons hardly reflect it. But it could also be “leadership” establishing a “Reign Of Terror Powerbase”, on the tax-payer’s dime.

    Something tells me. There’s a lot more cooking, then what we are getting. And it just aggravates me. To always see the lower level cop get shafted. Often in Brunswick County Departments.

  • Don in Leland

    I really don’t understand the issue and why they were fired. If they were using their own private phones – the ones they pay for themselves – why does the government have any say in what they can and can’t text (as long as the text itself is legal)? Last I checked, we live in a country that allows freedom of speech.
    I wonder if they might have a case for unlawful dismissal?

  • marilyn

    The only way bad policy or management gets corrected over here is with a law suit.

  • suspicious 1

    Possibly they were doing too much socializing among themselves and not enough patrolling. That is neglecting to do your job you’re getting paid for.

  • Rebel With a Cause

    I am pretty sure that the Village of Baldhead Island hires their own Public Safety officers and not the same department that hires regular BHI employees like administration, landscaping, transportation and such. However, as a former employee of BHI, if an officer hassled the wrong person, he would be terminated. There is a lot of money, power and other things there that is out of a lot of leagues. For the most part, everyone works at the pleasure of the powers that be. Not really fair, but reality. Remember when Devina Jones supposedly killed herself over there? Remember how the scene was destroyed so that an activity could proceed as scheduled before a thorough investigation could be conducted? Then the whole incident was swept under the rug? This is what money can do.

  • family

    Why would they fire these employees and keep the ferry captain who grounded the ferry and injured so many people.

  • Gramps1950

    Right. There’re a lot of Housing Projects, and Drug Corners, at Bald Head Island. For an officer to take even a few cell phone minutes, and taking his eyes off all the crime. It could cause someone to get robbed or killed. If this is really the issue ? Were all phone records, on all on-duty employees, examined ?

  • K-Blue Wannabee

    If he took 20 minutes to get on his cell phone. At 3AM. he should be fired ? For crying out loud. Whatever happens on BHI at 3AM, or even 3PM, for that matter.

    Have ALL employees cell phone records been checked ? Or just a targeted group ?

  • Guesttoo

    You raise a good point. Was this known to the employees? Were these “violations” egregious enough to justify termination? How many of them have been told that their performance was sub-par?

    If they were doing too much socializing, that should certainly be dealt with. Does it justify termination though?

  • marilyn

    These were their own phones and on their own time. They were not at work. I smell a law suit.

  • nun ya

    I think that it would be wonderful if the truth was known. And better yet they were “given up” by one of their “friends” who was in trouble and “threw them under the bus” to try to take the heat off his own self. Basically this is yet another subject like many others in town that no one knows anything about it and that should not be butting in on things they know nothing about. Amazing how much time people have to blab when they could be using their time to deal with their own ISSUES. Give it up and move on because no one wants to take responsibility for their actions anymore. It is all about entitlement. Oh and by the way the FERRY incident has nothing to do with public safety. These are separate topics all together……move on people.


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