DAMARISCOTTA, Maine — Damariscotta police Chief Chad Andrews has been placed on paid administrative leave pending a decision on potential disciplinary action.
Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett — who was chief of the Damariscotta Police Department before being elected sheriff of Lincoln County — has assumed the role of acting police chief of Damariscotta, Lincoln County Chief Deputy Maj. Ken Mason said Wednesday.
Damariscotta Town Manager Matt Lutkus said he alone made the decision to place Andrews on leave Monday, according to the town charter, he said Wednesday. He said the action involved “a personnel matter,” but declined to elaborate. He did say he hopes to resolve the matter this week.
“I hope to move this along very quickly,” Lutkus said. “I hope that within a few days, we’ll have a decision made if any disciplinary action is being considered. I want to conclude this administrative leave process and get things back to normal.”
As supervisor of the police department, Lutkus notified the Board of Selectmen of his decision, he said, and told them he appointed Brackett as acting chief of the police department. But he said he has not shared additional information with them except that he has hired outside legal counsel. Lutkus declined to name that counsel because he said “it relates to the investigation.”
Board Chairman David Atwater said Wednesday that he was unable to discuss the matter.
Andrews is the second consecutive Damariscotta police chief to be placed on administrative leave. In 2011, former chief Steve Drake was placed on leave after a disagreement with town officials on the police budget, according to the Lincoln County News. Eight weeks later, after eight years as chief and a career including stints as Lincoln County Sheriff and the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office, Maine State Police and various local police departments, Drake resigned. He declined at the time to comment on the reason for his resignation. Andrews was hired in August 2011 at a salary of $54,000— also his current salary, according to Lutkus.
The Board of Selectmen is scheduled to meet Wednesday night, but Lutkus said neither of two executive sessions will include discussion of Andrews’ leave, nor is the matter on the regular agenda.
“I cannot talk to the Board of Selectmen about this or any personnel issue because if it results in a disciplinary action and the employee appeals, [the board] needs to hear the appeal as the personnel board,” he said. “If I make a decision — in general, not this specifically — about discipline of an employee and they appeal, the appeal body is the Board of Selectmen. I can’t tell the board anything about my investigation or my decision.”
Andrews could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.