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Documents, e-mails shed light on BHI chief's resignation

READ MORE: Documents, e-mails shed light on BHI chief's resignation

BALD HEAD ISLAND, NC (WWAY) -- Documents and e-mails are shedding some new light on what may have led to the resignation of Bald Head Island's Public Safety Chief.

The Village of Bald Head Island requested an external audit of its public safety department. It may have received more than it expected.

In March, Bald Head Island Village Manager Calvin Peck contacted Leonard Matarese of ICMA to perform the first audit of the public safety services since the village formed the department in 2009. In the e-mail Peck outlined that it was time for an external review of the department to "get better, leaner, and less expensive."

BHI paid ICMA $7,000 to perform the audit, which was released in July. The report summarized that crime was low on the island, and that structure fires only occurred every 18 months.

But it said that due to the high value of personal property on the island, maintaining a highly visible law enforcement presence is critical to tourism, which sustains the island's economy. It also recommended that police officers be cross-trained as firefighters to save the village money.

In a follow-up email sent August 11, Matarese told Peck that "we were not hired to do an investigation of personnel; we were actually to review the operations of the public safety department."

He then writes, "we addressed the operational issues. The problem there (the Public Safety Department) appears to be managerial/HR related not operational."

Six days later, the village placed Public Safety Chief Jerome "Chip" Munna on administrative leave. He resigned September 5.

Bald Head Island Communications Director Karen Ellison told WWAY by phone today that the village has not taken any steps to address the recommendations in the report. She said village leaders won't address any questions about the report until a new public safety chief is in place.

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