Bald Head Island fires five public safety officers for violating policy


BALD HEAD ISLAND, NC (WWAY) — The final weekend of summer will be a short-staffed one for the Public Safety Department at Bald Head Island.

The Village of Bald Head Island fired five members of the joint police and fire department yesterday. Leaders say the five men were fired yesterday for violations of village policy.

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An attorney for one of the men fired says the dismissals stem from a series of text messages shared among the five fired men, two other employees and a former Bald Head Island employee.

Now the question is will there be enough public safety staff for the holiday weekend.

According to their termination letters, Ofc. Donald Koons, Lt. Nick Terrell, Lt. Thomas Cannon and Ofc. Herbert Bryant were fired yesterday for violating policies related to harassment and sexual harassment, discourteous treatment of coworkers and inappropriate electronic communications.

Ofc. Jesse Conner was fired for cause for discourteous treatment and inappropriate electronic communications.

“The actions of these officers constituted a violation of our internal policies, and although not criminal in nature, we determined that the acts were sufficiently harmful to warrant termination,” Village Manager Calvin Peck said in a statement. “I applaud Dr. Caroline Mitchell, our Director of Public Safety, for putting the interests of her employees ahead of public opinion. Leadership is defined in moments like this when the right path must take precedent over the easy path.”

The five dismissals represent about a quarter of the public safety department’s staff. Still spokeswoman Karen Ellison says the village has adequate staff to continue all operations and will replace the officers.

Sam Potter, the attorney for Lt. Terrell says the messages were of a private nature and on private cell phones, but wound up in the hands of supervisors. He says according to his client, one of the other employees involved was reprimanded while the other was not.

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