Damariscotta police chief demoted to deputy chief

Posted March 06, 2013, at 3:58 p.m.
Last modified March 06, 2013, at 4:50 p.m.

DAMARISCOTTA, Maine — Less than a year after voters rejected a proposed charter amendment to eliminate the town’s Police Department, Chief of Police Chad Andrews has been demoted to deputy police chief and Town Manager Matt Lutkus will begin a search for his replacement.

Lutkus said Wednesday that the change, which took effect Sunday, was by “mutual agreement.” Andrews will earn $46,000, compared with his chief’s salary of $54,000.

“The creation of this new position stems from issues involving management of the department that prompted me to take a close look in recent weeks at whether the chief had the background needed to continue to serve in the chief’s position,” Lutkus wrote in a statement released Wednesday. “Mr. Andrews and I have mutually concluded that he can best serve the department and the town by accepting the deputy chief position.

On Feb. 3, Andrews was placed on paid administrative leave for one month. Three days later, Lutkus said he alone had made the decision to place Andrews on leave, according to the town charter. He said the action involved “a personnel matter,” but declined to elaborate. Lutkus also said in February that he had hired outside legal counsel, but did not name that counsel because, “It relates to the investigation.”

On Wednesday, he again declined to address those issues.

Lutkus said neither the decision to place Andrews on administrative leave nor the change in his position from chief to deputy chief had anything to do with the two differing about the proposed 2012 charter amendment that would have eliminated the Police Department.

Andrews was the second consecutive Damariscotta police chief to have been placed on administrative leave.

In 2011, 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 in 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.

With the creation of the deputy chief position, a vacant sergeant position will be eliminated. Andrews and the new chief, when one is hired, will both work shifts, with Andrews and the new chief working different shifts “so we have some management and administrative coverage during the off-hours,” Lutkus said. “That’s essentially the point.”

A search for a new chief of police will begin immediately, according to Lutkus. Until a chief is hired — a process, he said, that will likely take three months — Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett will continue to serve as part-time interim police chief.

Once a continuing contract is completed, Lincoln County will be paid $45 per hour with benefits for Brackett’s services — a maximum of 15 hours a week and $7,600 a month, according to Lutkus.

“The town appreciates Mr. Andrews’ previous efforts for the town during a difficult period,” Lutkus concluded. “Mr. Andrews helped the town transition through a difficult period following the departure of the prior police chief.”

Andrews could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

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