Gouldsboro seeks new police chief

GOULDSBORO — The police chief’s position is to be advertised this week and the search launched for the successor of John Shively, who abruptly resigned May 4.

In his resignation letter, Shively blamed a series of unfounded complaints against him including a recent one that resulted in him taking and passing a polygraph test. He also took issue with the fact that those same allegations since have been reported to the Hancock County District Attorney’s Office.

Town Manager Andrea Sirois said she planned to post the police chief’s job on Wednesday. She said the Gouldsboro Police Department’s remaining officer, Adam Brackett, still works for the town. Until a new police chief is hired, Sirois says the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department and Maine State Police will be handling emergency calls. 

In addition, Sirois reported that no related changes have been made to the proposed 2021-22 municipal budget totaling $1.992 million. Under public safety, $149,272 has been budgeted for the police chief and two full-time reserve officers. Depending on the town’s needs in June, one of the two reserve-officer jobs could be split between two part-timers. That decision won’t be made until after the June 9 Town Meeting.

Last September, Brown and Brackett issued a “vote of no confidence” in Shively and Sirois. At the time, the officers expressed their unwillingness to work under the police chief. In Brackett’s case, he recently had been fired and then rehired after several allegations against him proved to be false in an investigation conducted by the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department. In October, Brown was reprimanded for insubordination after refusing to participate in an internal mediation process. Five months later, Brown resigned, accusing the town manager of inconsistent disciplining of town employees among other grievances. He also accused the police chief of misconduct in a seven-page, Feb. 19 letter to selectmen.

“Early in my employment here, I stood before a public meeting on my own time and spoke of my pride in this agency and community. I also said that I didn’t look in my bank account to see if pay was deposited,” he wrote. “At that time, I used to have fun working here. It had nothing to do with money. I no longer have any pride in this agency.”

Sirois declined to comment or elaborate on the officers’ grievances and “no confidence vote” last fall.  Last September, the town manager conducted an investigation into various issues concerning Shively. One issue involved secretarial work and the police chief was verbally warned and required to undergo sexual harassment training, according to Sirois’s Sept. 23, 2020, final report, which was made available to The American following a Freedom of Access request on Friday, March 19.

In his letter submitted May 4, Shively noted that the series of complaints lodged against him “had been thoroughly investigated and all had been determined to be unfounded — including the most recent — in which I passed a polygraph. I just discovered that these previous same complaints were presented to the [Hancock County] District Attorney’s Office in my absence.”

In the letter, Shively said he has been targeted “politically, both internally and externally, and it is occupying all my time and yours. This is unproductive to the town and police department … I feel that for both the stability of the town and for the mental health of both myself and my family, this is the best option.” The former police chief also planned to pursue the Giglio report concerning him with the Hancock County public defender. 

Giglio reports refer to a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding a bank fraud suspect John Giglio. Such reports question police officers’ character and integrity. Some public defenders keep them on file to assess police officers’ credibility as witnesses in criminal prosecutions. Such reports can stymie a police officer’s career when their character poses an issue in criminal court cases. 

Letitia Baldwin

Arts Editor at The Ellsworth American
In addition to editing the Arts & Leisure section, Letitia edits special sections including Out & About, Overview, Health Quarterly, Your Maine Home, House & Garden and Get Ready for Winter. She comes from Chicago, Ill, but has deep family ties to the Cranberry Isles. [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *