Lincoln reserve officer to be interim police chief

Posted Jan. 11, 2011, at 11:52 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 7:24 a.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — A town reserve officer and Old Town patrolman will be Lincoln’s interim, part-time police chief starting late this month, Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said Tuesday.

Reserve Officer James “Jamie” Slauenwhite was a sergeant on the Lincoln Police Department when he was among three officers to tender resignations in June 2007, in his case to join the Old Town Police Department as a patrolman.

The Town Council agreed Monday night to appoint him interim chief to succeed Police Chief Scott Minckler, who will resign effective Jan. 30 to return to Massachusetts. As part of the deal, Slauenwhite will work 20-plus hours a week until a permanent replacement for Minckler is found, Goodwin said.

“He came forward and offered his services,” Goodwin said Tuesday of Slauenwhite, “but he has said he will not be applying for the [full-time] police chief’s job.”

With Slauenwhite, Lincoln will get an experienced officer familiar with Lincoln who will complement the department’s supervisory staff.

Within the next few weeks the town will promote or hire a sergeant to replace Sgt. Patty McLaughlin, Goodwin said. McLaughlin resigned effective Dec. 20 to take a job as a Penobscot County sheriff’s deputy.

With Slauenwhite, the new sergeant and occasional help from Fire Chief Phil Dawson — a retired state trooper who twice before served as interim police chief but declined the position this time — the department will have enough supervisory personnel to meet public and police needs, Goodwin said.

The unprecedented turnover of officers within the department hasn’t been traced to any single factor. Various town officials attribute it to better salaries offered by police departments elsewhere.

Minckler has said the difficulty in being away from his wife, Jennifer, a financial analyst, and their 1½-year-old daughter, Alexa — as well as maintaining two households — left him with no choice but to return to the Bay State. The family had been split between Maine and Massachusetts since his hiring in March 2010 and her efforts to find a job in Maine were unsuccessful.

Whatever its cause, Goodwin said she has faith that the turnover will at least slow down when a new chief is hired. At least 10 people have applied for Minckler’s position, which she hopes to fill in March.

As the interim chief, Slauenwhite will work a mix of day and evening shifts three or so days a week, Goodwin said.

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