Chief shocked by panel’s actions

12 years ago
Chief Stacey Mahan

By Natalie Bazinet
Staff Writer

LIMESTONE — Though it took the Limestone Board of Selectpeople under 30 seconds to remove Police Chief Stacey Mahan as the Head of the Police Department during their July 18 meeting, it’s been a week filled with questions as to exactly what the action means for both the department and Limestone’s current chief.

As specified by Selectperson Chair Jimmy Pelletier during the board’s last meeting, Mahan is still “currently” the chief — but the current chief had no idea what had transpired during the July 18 meeting until a Limestone police officer called him at home to tell him what the board had done; Mahan said he was shocked and in total disbelief when he heard what happened.

During a phone interview on Saturday, Pelletier said that it “is the intent of the board that Mahan will no longer be Limestone’s police chief.”

As of Tuesday afternoon — six days after the meeting — the town hadn’t provided Mahan with any clarity one way or another regarding the vote.

Pelletier said on July 21 that he wasn’t sure if anyone had been in contact with the chief regarding the vote, but his plan was to meet with Town Manager Donna Bernier to see what direction the town is going.

“I know when she left [the meeting on July 18], she said she’d have to talk with Maine Municipal Association because she had concerns about the time frame,” he explained, adding his opinion that “the town’s not just going to throw [Mahan] to the dogs.”

Mahan has his own opinion as to how the town has handled the management change.

“I feel the way this occurred showed a lack of respect for my years of service to the Town of Limestone, to my family and the officers of the police department,” Mahan said in a written statement. “My family and I are beside ourselves.”

Mahan has been Limestone’s police chief since January, 2007.

Selectpeople Tom Devoe and Danny Gahagan Sr. made and seconded the motion not to reappoint Mahan as the department head, but repeatedly expressed that they could not comment on the situation.

Pelletier’s impression is that, in the absence of a head, the department will be overseen by Bernier with Limestone’s only other full-time officer, Corey Larlee, managing the scheduling. Larlee was hired full-time by the department a few weeks ago.

Though there was no discussion surrounding Mahan’s removal as department head and the completely unanimous process took the board under 30 seconds, Pelletier said that the board had not discussed the vote beforehand.

Pelletier explained that there has been some overall dissatisfaction in the way Mahan ran his department, and this is the time of year that the board does annual reappointments. Pelletier also said that he thinks it was in the back of people’s minds that when [the annual reappointments] came up, there were plans to not renew [Mahan’s] contract.

“On different occasions, I might run into [Devoe] or [Gahagan] and I knew there was dissatisfactions there,” Pelletier explained. “We’d talked to the chief early on into the year; we had some expectations and those expectations to date have not been met,” he added. “It was a dissatisfaction thing that was coming along.”

He also said that there was no discussion during the vote because board members pretty much knew where they stood.

“We all have different reasons as to how we do things,” Pelletier said. “I don’t believe I’m in a position to micromanage anyone. I believe when you give someone directions and those directions aren’t followed or met, and you feel that you’re giving directions in the best interest of the community and they don’t follow them — in Limestone unfortunately it’s not just the police department. The police department kind of got picked on I think.”

Once the town gets legal direction from the Maine Municipal Association, Pelletier thinks that it will be important to act quickly on either sharing a police chief with a neighboring town or finding a new police chief “because no department should be left without a department head for any amount of time, especially the police department because they respond to emergencies 24/7 — they need someone that can lead them.”