Limestone police chief still on the job despite lack of board support

Posted July 25, 2012, at 6:25 p.m.

LIMESTONE, Maine — While the employment status of the town’s police chief hangs in limbo, all sides of the issue say they are waiting for word from legal counsel before taking any further action.

Stacey Mahan, the Limestone police chief since 2007, did not have his yearly appointment confirmed during the July 18 meeting of the town Board of Selectmen.

The unanimous vote caught the chief by surprise.

“I was not aware this was happening,” Mahan, who was not at the July 18 meeting, said Wednesday afternoon. “I can’t really point to anything specific that could have caused this.”

James Pelletier, chairman of the Limestone Board of Selectmen, on Wednesday, however, said Mahan had plenty of warning his position could be in jeopardy.

“I believe each board member had their own reasons for voting the way they did,” Pelletier said. “I know I had mine.”

For Pelletier — who stressed he was speaking only for himself — the reasons came down to what he said was lack of action on the part of Mahan.

“Early this year we had an executive session and gave [Mahan] a to-do list,” Pelletier said. “Those items did not happen in a timely manner or in the manner as should be done by a department head.”

Among the items on that list, Pelletier said, was a personnel issue and a complete inventory of all police department equipment.

“We just got that [inventory] information a week and a half ago,” he said.

The personnel matter remains unresolved, Pelletier said.

Mahan was not available to respond to those allegations later Wednesday afternoon, but earlier in the day said he had no indications of anything he may have done, or not done, to lead to his appointment denial.

“It was a total surprise,” he said, adding he learned of the decision from a fellow Limestone police officer who had seen a televised broadcast of the meeting.

In fact, Mahan said he was unaware his position ever came up for board approval on an annual basis.

“I was hired five years ago,” he said. “Apparently these votes to approve [the position] come up every year, but I was not aware of them.”

In addition, Mahan said he does not have an employment contract with the town of Limestone.

“There was no reason given for their decision,” Donna Bernier, Limestone town manager, said Wednesday. “It was in open session and I was completely surprised by the move.”

Mahan was subject to employee evaluations, according to Pelletier, but neither he nor his board have seen them.

“The town manager sees those,” Pelletier said.

The action on Mahan’s appointment was part of a single agenda item under old business to confirm the appointments of department heads as made by the town manager.

In addition to police chief, the fire chief, director of the recreation department and director of public works were up for confirmation, Bernier said.

Only Mahan’s was not confirmed.

Despite that action on the part of the board, Bernier said she instructed Mahan to report for work and to continue in his position as police chief pending legal opinion on the matter.

Which is where the matter currently stands.

“I don’t have a clue what is going to happen next,” Mahan said. “I want to find out what the plans are as much as anyone else.”

The matter is far from over, Pelletier agreed.

“There are questions for our legal counsel,” he said. “This is not done.”

The issue likely will be discussed at the next regular board meeting on Aug. 1, Bernier said, and possibly sooner than that at a special board meeting.

In the meantime, the decision has not affected the chief’s commitment to his job.

“I love this community,” Mahan said. “I will not back away from doing what is right just because I was done wrong.”

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