Fired police chief files suit against Bar Harbor

Posted March 25, 2014, at 4:48 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Bar Harbor’s former police chief has filed suit against the town over his dismissal.

Nate Young’s civil complaint against the town of Bar Harbor was filed Tuesday in the court clerk’s office in Ellsworth.

Young was fired in January after having been placed on paid administrative leave last fall in the wake of an incident on Sept. 25 in the local village of Town Hill. Bar Harbor police received a report that a man, who turned out to be Young, was slumped over the steering wheel of a pickup truck parked outside a local business.

An investigator hired by the town to look into the incident concluded that Young had broken the law by driving drunk and had pressured officers in his department who came to investigate his well-being not to pursue the matter.

Young has denied the accusations and appealed his firing by Town Manager Dana Reed to the Bar Harbor Town Council. At the end of a six-hour hearing on Feb. 26, which was open to the public at Young’s request, the council voted 5-2 to uphold Reed’s decision to fire Young.

In his court complaint, Young claims he was denied due process, that his firing was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, legally erroneous” and “unsupported by substantial evidence in the record,” and that the town breached its employment contract with him for firing him without just cause.

The former police chief argues in the complaint that there is no objective evidence to support the investigator’s conclusions, and that prior to the Sept. 25 incident, he had not incurred any negative documents in his personnel file over his prior 29 years of employment with the town. Young started working for the local police department in 1985 and became chief in 1991.

Young also claims that several councilors told Reed either in April or May of last year, months before the Sept. 25 incident, that they “wanted Chief Young gone” after having heard about “an unsubstantiated nonwork-related allegation” against Young. Though this allegation was never mentioned during Young’s public Feb. 26 appeal to the town council, Young believes it was weighed as a factor in his firing even though the council was supposed to consider only evidence presented at the hearing.

Contacted Tuesday afternoon, Reed said he had not seen the court complaint and declined to comment on it.

The complaint asks the court to vacate Young’s firing, return Young to the police chief position and award Young financial and other damages deemed to be “fair and equitable.”

Since Young was placed on leave, James Willis, police chief in the neighboring town of Mount Desert, has served as interim chief of the department, splitting his time between the two towns.

 

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