MILO, Maine — Police Chief Michael Poulin is suspended with pay pending the outcome of internal affairs and town investigations into his being charged with hitting his estranged wife during a brief altercation Friday at her West Main Street restaurant, town officials said Sunday.
Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department investigators charged Poulin, 53, of Milo, with domestic assault Friday in connection with the alleged fight, which occurred at about 7:15 p.m. at Elaine’s Basket Cafe & Gift Shop, Piscataquis County Sheriff John Goggin said.
Poulin was not armed or in uniform at the time. Elaine Poulin was not seriously injured, if at all.
“It was more of a hostile situation, him hollering and screaming and shoving her and that type of thing,” Goggin said Sunday. “He was upset. It didn’t last very long.”
Several people claimed to witness the assault, including Milo police Sgt. Terry Smith, who was also off-duty, Officer Dave Henderson, who was on-duty, and several of Elaine’s workers and patrons, Goggin said.
After separating the Poulins, the officers notified the Sheriff’s Department immediately to guarantee that the incident be investigated impartially, Town Manager John Gahagan said.
“That’s really the way to go, for all parties involved,” Gahagan said.
“They just thought it would be more appropriate for another agency to be involved in the prosecution of a situation like that,” Goggin said.
Poulin paid a $300 cash bail after the incident. His bail conditions require him to surrender all firearms, keys to town and Piscataquis County sheriff’s buildings and vehicles, and to avoid contact with his wife, Smith, Henderson and a woman who saw the incident.
Poulin is also ordered to stay out of the town office, Police Department and Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department, and the homes of his wife and the witnesses, according to the bail conditions.
Elaine Poulin has been estranged and living apart from her husband for several months, Goggin said. A call to her restaurant Sunday was not returned. Poulin could not be reached for comment.
Lt. Robert Young of the Sheriff’s Department is still gathering statements from witnesses and investigating whether previous fights have occurred between the Poulins, Goggin said.
The department’s second in command, Smith will handle administrative duties at the Milo Police Department until further notice, Gahagan said. The department has three full-time officers and some part-time staff.
Gahagan plans to discuss the incident with the Board of Selectmen. The board meets on April 7, but he might meet with it sooner, he said.
An Augusta native, Poulin began work as the town’s police chief in June 2006, replacing Todd Lyford, after eight years as chief of security for Osceola County, Fla. He had worked for that county for 13 years.
His move back to Maine had a lot to do with being closer to his parents and other relatives, he said at the time.
Poulin also worked for the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department in Augusta for a number of years. At the time of his hiring, he had been in law enforcement for 31 years, including four years in U.S. Air Force security.
Poulin is due in court on April 27.