Some omissions by BDN columnist Renee Ordway in her Aug. 11 column are disappointing to us and require our response to disclose all pertinent facts.
The purpose of the voluntary work by four current and former police officers including myself, Brian Gagan, Joseph Loughlin and Dr. Michael Sefton, along with five others during the last year, has been to help prevent future domestic violence homicides. Gagan made that point, among several others, clear to Ordway during a 42-minute telephone conversation on Aug. 9.
Much of the 42 minutes was spent discussing three concerns. One shared was the firearms relinquishment order execution error that contributed to the Lake deaths but still has not been acted upon nor corrected by the attorney general and the Maine State Police. We’d like to ensure that firearms are collected per statute and per court order so that further deaths may not occur.
The second concern was that it appears that no corrective action has yet been taken against any law enforcement officer other than Trooper Jon Brown, who was involved with the Michael Curtis shooting death on Nov. 29, 2011, in Dover-Foxcroft. The attorney general’s investigative report exonerated Brown.
The third point was related to the Carlson case. The Carlson report has now arrived with much of the investigative material redacted or deleted, but it indicates that inaction by trusted public officials enabled Carlson to molest young boys for decades without intervention.
We find that work toward any public safety accountability and policy improvements become hindered when outdated or ineffective law enforcement policies, management and protocol exist. These three points indicate a consistent pattern and practice that is in our view not in the best interests of BDN readers and Maine citizens.
As made clear to Ordway, we see a troubling pattern regarding how these cases occurred on the watch of a number of police-academy trained and certified professionals who know better but choose for whatever reasons to not fulfill their professional responsibilities as required by Maine law. Other involved professionals remain silent.
Other subjects discussed with Ordway during the interview with Gagan included how impossible it is to know whether a “jumper” was pushed, thrown or voluntarily leaped off a bridge without eye witnesses or cameras. As shared with Ordway, there are many documented cases of bridge homicides originally classified as suicides — as close as the Mystic River Bridge in Massachusetts.
In passing, the subject of Gagan’s time working as a sworn police officer on a full-time basis (as many as 56 hours per week) was raised by Ordway. She wanted to know how that was accomplished between two police departments from 1976 to 1982 without residential academy training. Gagan explained the training requirements back then.
Following this subject, Sefton and his remarkable capabilities were mentioned, and Ordway requested his contact information, which was furnished to her in a later voicemail. Ordway, however, was more interested in one matter of poor judgment by Sefton 13 years ago, while completely disregarding his years of excellent professional work for which he has received much recognition as a published author and speaker, most recently on the subject of traumatic brain injury. Ordway never called Sefton.
Ordway also never noted that I am a highly respected retired police chief and former investigator (mostly domestic violence and sex crimes) of 21 years in Maine and that one other member of our team is a highly respected retired deputy police chief and former command detective with more than two decades of police service.
Our view is that seven dead people and countless molested children and their hurting families require more from all of us. The public expects just that, and public policy and law enforcement leaders must step up and take a leadership role in order to stop the “business as usual” mantra when it comes to the abuse, injury and death of Maine citizens. There is much good work being done by many in Maine law enforcement, but more work needs to be done in improving accountability and transparency.
Was our Aug. 8 email to Ordway stating, “there really is gnarly stuff going on up there,” lost in an apparent mission to discredit our earnest and singular attempts to improve public safety in some parts of Maine? We certainly hope not.
This column was submitted by Dr. Ronald Allanach, a retired police chief; Brian Gagan, a management consultant; and Dr. Michael Sefton, a police sergeant. They are three of the members of a research team that reported its findings regarding the Lake domestic violence homicides that occurred in Dexter on June 13, 2011.