UPDATE: Two Rockland police officers terminated following investigations

Wed, 09/30/2020 - 6:30pm

    UPDATE (Oct. 1): District Attorney Natasha C. Irving confirmed by email Oct. 1 that she specially assigned a prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Michael Dumas of the Sagadahoc County Office, to review the case for charges. “We are in the final stages of review,” Irving confirmed.

    Rockland City Manager Tom Luttrell also confirmed by email Oct. 1 that a teamster representative has filed a grievance with the city, on behalf of the two officers, for wrongful termination. Luttrell said that the grievance timeframe is hard to determine at this point in time.

    ROCKLAND — Two Rockland patrol officers were terminated from the department Sept. 22, following an internal affairs investigation by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and a criminal investigation by the Maine Warden Service.

    Rockland Police Chief Chris Young issued a statement on the department’s Facebook page Sept. 30 regarding the terminations:

    “I wanted to take a moment and speak about the recent events involving two Rockland Police Officers and their termination from the agency.”

    “I understand that many of you want to know the details around the termination of two Rockland Police Officers. I know that demands for police transparency are coming. I want you all to know that I agree with those demands and understand the frustration of not knowing exactly what transpired to cause two officers to be terminated.

    “If it were up to me you would have those details; you would know exactly what occurred and how it was dealt with.”

    “The reality of the situation is that Maine’s laws relating to employee discipline do not allow those details to be released at this time. I follow the law.

    “Generally speaking, if an officer is alleged to have violated departmental policies, we would investigate that allegation. If the allegation could lead to serious consequences for the officer if true, I may choose to have an outside agency conduct the internal investigation to determine if departmental policies were violated.

    “If there were an allegation of criminal conduct, I may, and likely would, request an outside agency conduct the criminal investigation concurrently.

    “In many cases, it would make sense to have any investigations be conducted by outside agencies who have had little to no contact with the officer involved. Having outside entities investigate allegations of serious misconduct helps to ensure a fair and impartial investigation, for both the officer and the community.

    “If the allegation involved conduct which could cause an officer to be de-certified by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, Chiefs of Police are required by law to report that to the Academy. There, the Academy’s Board of Trustees review the matter, and can choose to take action on the officer’s Academy certification.

    “A tremendous amount of power is given to those who wear a badge and are tasked with protecting their communities; it’s a power that I do not take lightly. I’m asking you to trust that, if there were an allegation of police misconduct, I would take it very seriously and any investigation would be conducted appropriately, always placing public safety and community trust at the fore front,” Young concluded in his statement.

    Young confirmed in an email Sept. 30 that he cannot release the names of the terminated officers since they still have options available to argue the city’s decision.

    He further explained the process used for the termination.

    Young said that the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office conducted the internal affairs investigation at his request and the Maine Warden Service conducted a criminal investigation as well.

    “The results of the internal affairs investigation was weighed against violations of the department’s police and procedure manual. It was determined that the violations of policy warranted termination.”

    Young said that the allegations were brought forward on Aug. 28.

    “Within 24 hours of being aware of the allegations the officers were placed on administration leave pending the outcome of the internal affairs investigation. On September 22, the officers were terminated from employment with the City of Rockland,” he added.

    A request to the Maine Warden Service Sept. 30 about the alleged charges of the criminal investigation, was not immediately returned.

    Sarah Shepherd can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com.