Bar Harbor police chief fired

Posted Jan. 22, 2014, at 10:57 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 23, 2014, at 6:25 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — After being on paid administrative leave since Oct. 1, Nate Young was terminated Wednesday afternoon after having served as the local police chief for more than 20 years.

In a prepared statement, Town Manager Dana Reed said Wednesday that Young’s firing comes at the end of an investigation recently completed by Jon Goodman, an attorney and former internal investigator for the Portland Police Department.

“It is important that every public employee get the due process that fairness demands, and we appreciate the patience and understanding of our taxpayers, police officers and, most of all, Mr. Young, as we sought to conduct a fair, impartial and thorough investigation into these very serious allegations,” Reed wrote in the statement. “Until the process is concluded, we’ll not have any other comment.”

In a prepared statement released late Thursday afternoon, Young said the investigator’s report to the town is “rife with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and gross suppositions and assumptions.” He vowed to appeal Reed’s decision to the local elected town council.

“I am confident that when the cloak of secrecy and back room maneuverings is lifted and the town council is presented with the full facts, I will be back at work as Chief of the Bar Harbor Police Department,” Young wrote in his statement.

Reed, who as town manager appoints the town’s police chief, has declined to comment on the reasons he placed Young on paid leave and then terminated him. Young, however, has spoken publicly about the Sept. 25 incident that resulted in his being fired on Wednesday.

He said he was parked that night in his pickup truck outside a business in the local village of Town Hill when two officers in his department came to check on his well-being. He said someone had reported to police that someone appeared to be slumped over the steering wheel of the truck. Young denies he had been drinking.

Young said he had a brief exchange with the officers when they arrived and then, after they departed, he drove home. Young, who has acknowledged that since the incident he has received treatment out of state for alcoholism, says he was contemplating personal problems that night when one officer approached his truck. He said he was not in a mood to have a conversation about what was on his mind.

Young has said that despite whatever struggles he has had with alcohol, they have not affected his performance as police chief and are not grounds for termination from his job.

Reached by phone Wednesday night, Young said he found out that he had been terminated as police chief when a reporter from a local weekly newspaper called him for comment. He said his attorney, Gregg Frame of Portland, appeared to have received an email from Reed about his termination on Wednesday evening, after the reporter and other town employees had been notified of the decision.

“It’s total bush league,” Young said.

Frame said Wednesday night that Goodman’s investigation and accompanying report, which was provided to the town in late December, is “completely flawed.” He said Young is waiting for his chance to discuss the matter in open session with the council.

“I think Dana Reed’s decision is a little myopic,” Frame said. “I think it is a shame [Young’s] 29-year career is hanging in the balance because of a poor decision by the town manager.”

Young has been with the department since 1984 and and its chief since 1991.

According to Reed, Mount Desert Police Chief James Willis, who has been splitting his time between the two neighboring towns, will continue to serve as acting police chief for Bar Harbor “until further notice.”

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