ROCKLAND, Maine — Two former Rockland police officers have been charged with felony animal cruelty.
After a criminal investigation, the Maine Warden Service on Friday charged Addison Cox, 27, and Mike Rolerson, 30, with aggravated cruelty to animals ― a Class C felony ― and night hunting, a misdemeanor.
Cox was additionally charged with unlawful use or possession of implements or aids. Rolerson also faces a charge of illuminating wild animals or birds.
Both men are scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 9.
The officers were fired from the Rockland Police Department on Sept. 22, following an internal investigation into alleged misconduct that found they violated the department’s code of conduct.
Rockland Police Chief Chris Young said he became aware of the allegations against the officers in late August and they were placed on administrative leave while the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office investigated the claims to prevent any conflicts of interest.
The Maine Warden Service’s criminal complaints against the former officers, filed in court on Friday afternoon, did not detail specifics of the alleged abuse. However, it stated the men did “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause extreme physical pain to an animal; cause the death of an animal; or physically torture an animal.”
From left: Mike Rolerson; Addison Cox. Credit: Courtesy of the Rockland Police Department
A spokesman for the Maine Warden Service could not immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
Citing employment laws regarding disciplinary action, Chief Young said he was unable to elaborate on why the officers were terminated. Young said he understands the public’s frustration in wanting to know the specifics of what transpired.
“If it were up to me you would have those details; you would know exactly what occurred and how it was dealt with,” Young said.
District Attorney Natasha Irving said the Rockland Police Department moved on the allegations against the former officers with immediacy. Irving has tapped an assistant district attorney based in Sagadahoc County to prosecute the cases to eliminate any potential conflict of interest.
“We couldn’t ask for a better agency or a better chief,” Irving said. “This is no easy thing to do in any tight knit community.”
Cox joined the Rockland Police Department in April 2016, after serving four years with the U.S. Marine Corps.
In 2018, he received law enforcement’s national Silver Star for Bravery Award for responding to an apartment fire. Cox had been described by fellow officers as an “avid outdoorsmen” and its “resident raccoon whisperer” after helping a Rockland resident remove a young rodent from their yard in 2017, according to WGME.
Rolerson was hired as a patrol officer in Rockland in October 2017, and grew up in a family of law enforcement officers. His father is also a police officer.
Before joining the Rockland Police Department, Rolerson served in the U.S. Marine Corps, stationed in the Pacific and Afghanistan, and earned the Good Conduct Medal among other military honors.