The Islander learned over the Easter holiday, while Holmes Beach city offices were closed, Mayor Carmel Monti ordered the lock changed on the police chief’s office March 29, essentially barring interim Police Chief Dale Stephenson, a 26-year veteran of the city police force, from work.
The mayor further ordered city attorney Patti Petruff on March 28 to confiscate documents accumulated and stored by the department that are eventually shredded by an outside service.
City Commissioner David Zaccagnino confirmed through the city clerk that the mayor had changed the locks on the police chief’s office March 29.
This was followed by a phone call, according to The Islander’s sources, on Easter Sunday from the mayor to Stephenson, telling him to collect his things the morning of April 1. He was dismissed — fired — without being allowed to serve out his notice.
It was unclear at press time whether the mayor’s dismissal of Stephenson required concurrence from the commission.
Zaccagnino also said he learned the mayor had changed the lock on his city office a few weeks earlier.
While a strict public records law prevents disposal of most records, duplicate copies, expired records and some others are routinely disposed.
Former Chief Jay Romine, who retired in December 2012, said this week his office observed a retention schedule for records.
The Islander also learned from Romine that he received a letter in the past week from Monti demanding he return his revolver.
Romine said he doesn’t have a revolver, but he had opted for auxiliary status and retained his department-issued weapon based on existing policy.
He has since asked to be separated from the auxiliary and plans to return the department weapon.
Neither Stephenson nor Monti replied to inquiries from The Islander.