Dexter’s police chief retiring after 30 years

Posted Feb. 16, 2012, at 7:38 p.m.
James ''Jim'' Emerson
James ''Jim'' Emerson

DEXTER, Maine — After 30 years in the Dexter Police Department, Chief Jim Emerson has decided to retire.

“Given the state of things in Dexter and some of the problems we’ve been having lately — cuts in the budget — it’s time,” said the 60-year-old Emerson of Corinna.

In his resignation letter, Emerson said he was retiring for personal health reasons.

“The stress was getting to me,” said Emerson, who has been chief for the past three years. His last day is Friday.

New Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs also played a part in his resignation, said Emerson.

She “has different ideas of how things should work and they really don’t match mine. That was probably the turning point,” said Emerson.

Town Council Chairman Peter Haskell said the police budget had been a point of contention between Emerson and the council.

“It’s been going downhill ever since they eliminated that [police] secretary job. It hasn’t been good since,” said Haskell.

Haskell said, to his knowledge, no one asked Emerson to resign.

“If he would’ve stayed on, it wouldn’t have bothered me,” said Haskell. “[But] overall, myself, I think it’s probably best for the community. Maybe we can get back on the right track without squabbling every week about something.”

Briggs said Sgt. Kevin Wintle and Cpl. Alan Grinnell will act as an interim team until a replacement is found for Emerson. She said there will be an external search for a new chief.

Emerson’s tenure as chief wasn’t without controversy.

In October 2010, the four full-time police officers in Dexter filed a letter of no confidence about Emerson. A year and a half later, Emerson was suspended for five days for failing to process a crime scene involving a domestic assault case against a Milo police officer.

Dave Pearson resigned as Dexter’s town manager a year ago because of philosophical differences between the council and how he handled the situation involving an investigation of Emerson after the no-confidence vote by officers.

Still, Emerson said he enjoyed most of his time in Dexter. He said he was proud of having officers spend more time talking to people and businesses in the community and having a D.A.R.E. program in Dexter schools before it ran out of funding.

Emerson has plenty of opportunities ahead, he said.

He said he has been offered part-time police officer positions in Newport and Milo. He’s already a part-time officer in Greenville, where he has a camp.

“I’ll think about it and see how much work there is,” Emerson said. “If I take too many jobs, I’ll be working full time again.”

Briggs said there’s no animosity between the town and Emerson.

“The town wishes him and his family well in his retirement,” said Briggs.

There will be an open house at the police station from noon to 2 p.m. Friday.

“It’s open to anyone who wants to come in and say goodbye or good riddance,” Emerson said, laughing.

Another farewell party will be Friday evening at the Watering Hole on Water Street.

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