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3/13/2013 2:00:00 PM
Questions Remain About Damariscotta Chief's Demotion
By J.W. Oliver

A one-page agreement signed by Damariscotta's town manager and deputy police chief reveals some details but also raises questions about an investigation before his demotion.

Town Manager Matt Lutkus demoted Police Chief Chad Andrews to deputy chief March 6 and reduced his pay from $54,000 to $46,000 per year, an $8000 cut. Andrews had been on administrative leave since Feb. 4.

The document warns Andrews to "not participate in nor allow" sexual harassment, refers to an internal affairs investigation by the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office and requires Andrews to direct complaints about one of his officers, Richard Alexander, to another supervisor.

It does not, however, explicitly connect the instructions with the investigation or accuse Andrews of anything.

Andrews, in a phone interview, said the town, after the investigation, concluded that there was inappropriate "banter" between male officers, initiated by one officer, which Andrews participated in and did not take adequate steps to prevent.

According to the agreement, "As deputy chief, [Andrews] will not participate in nor allow sexual harassment or violations of any departmental rules or policies by other officers, and will comply fully with the department's [standard operating procedure] in this area.

"Violation of this provision may result in discipline, up to and including termination of your employment."

"There is to be absolutely no retaliation to any person who was cooperated [sic] during the [investigation]," according to the agreement. "If disciplinary action is contemplated toward any officer as a result of the [investigation], you will not be asked to participate."

"Any and all complaints received by you in regards to Officer [Richard] Alexander will be directed to the chief or acting chief for follow-up," according to the document.

Lutkus said a complaint initiated the investigation, although he did not specify the nature or source of the complaint. He declined to provide a copy of the investigator's report because he said the attorney representing the town in the matter has instructed him not to release it.

He declined, citing the confidentiality of personnel matters, to say whether the town alleges any misconduct by Andrews or whether the town plans to discipline other department personnel. He also declined to elaborate on Alexander's involvement in the case.

Two days before the town released the agreement, Lutkus had offered a different take on the reasons for the demotion.

Lutkus, in a March 6 phone interview, said he believes Andrews "does not have the background necessary right now to be the chief for Damariscotta."

The department has "issues we need to address down the road that I feel are not within the capabilities of Chad Andrews," he said.

He declined to elaborate on any specific deficiencies in Andrews' background or capabilities and would not discuss specific challenges or issues at the department. "It just has to do with the day-to-day management and long-term strategic planning for our police department," he said.

The agreement outlines the conditions of Andrews' return to work, including the demotion and pay cut.

He will have to complete a six-month probation period and the deputy chief position, a new position for the department, will be a non-union, overtime-exempt position.

If the town had demoted him to sergeant, he would have been eligible to join the department union and earn overtime.

Andrews was the department's sergeant for several years and earned $20.99 per hour, or $43,659.20 per year before overtime, as of his promotion to acting chief in 2011.

Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett will continue to serve as acting police chief part-time.

The town expects Brackett to work about eight hours a week with a maximum of 15. Damariscotta will pay the county an hourly rate for Brackett's services, up to $7600 for the 90-day term of a contract the selectmen approved March 6.

The county already owes the town money related to the training expense for one of its officers, Aaron Beck, who now works for the county. The town might use this credit to pay for Brackett's services, Lutkus said.

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