Aug. 29--Four of the five Bald Head Island Department of Public Safety officers who were terminated Thursday were fired for violating village policy against sexual harassment, discourteous treatment of other employees and inappropriate electronic communications, according to termination letters.
The fifth man was fired for discourteous treatment of other employees and inappropriate electronic communications. No allegation of sexual harassment was leveled against him, the letters show.
The terminated employees are identified as officers Jesse Conner, Herbert Bryant and Donald Koons, and lieutenants Thomas Cannon and Nick Terrell.
"In communications that you took part in during the period from July 25, 2014 to August 15, 2014, your conduct violated village policies related to harassment and sexual harassment, discourteous treatment of other employees and inappropriate electronic communications," the letters to Bryant and Koons state. "The egregious nature of these communications and the flagrant violation of policy constitutes detrimental personal conduct and is thereby grounds for immediate termination."
Cannon's and Terrell's letters are the same, but they also are admonished for lacking as leaders.
"The Village of Bald Head Island has no tolerance for harassment and especially those in leadership positions are expected to not only abide by policy, but to assist in upholding the principles and policies of the village," the letters state.
Conner's letter only addressed the discourteous treatment of other employees and inappropriate electronic communications.
Bryant and Terrell were with Bald Head Island since 2009, Cannon since 2008 and Koons and Conner since 2012, according to village spokeswoman Karen Williams.
In the employment contract Conner signed, he agreed to repay the village $6,000 for his law enforcement training if he left the department before two years, according to his termination letter. Conner would have been with the department two years in October.
"Because you are being terminated for cause, the village could demand repayment of the full $6,000. Instead, we have decided to accept a lesser amount equivalent to your accrued vacation leave which has a value of $2,326," the letter signed by City Manager Calvin Peck states.
Williams declined to release further details of the terminations. She said an internal investigation has been completed.
"There was a thorough investigation and based on that we made the decision to terminate yesterday," she said. "These are violations of internal policy. There was no criminal activity involved."
Bald Head Island has 21 officers within its Department of Public Safety who are cross trained in firefighting, paramedics and law enforcement, Williams said.
The Village of Bald Head Island merged its firefighter/paramedic and police departments in July 2009, according to the village's website.
F.T. Norton: 910-343-2070
On Twitter: @FTNorton
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