GOULDSBORO—Police Chief Paul Gamble was fired Wednesday evening, just days before completing his six month probation.
Town Manager Bryan Kaenrath said the board met in executive session Tuesday and Wednesday evenings — Feb. 2 and 3 — and then voted to dismiss Gamble.
“He was terminated last night, effective immediately,” Kaenrath said Thursday, Feb. 4. “It’s a personnel matter. I can’t comment beyond that.”
He said the two meetings were publicized in notices posted on the town office bulletin board.
Kaenrath said former Police Chief Glenn Grant likely will serve as interim chief, working 10 to 15 hours each week on necessary administrative work until a new chief is hired.
The firing brings the police force down to one fulltime officer, Tyler Dunbar, and one part-time reserve officer, Kenneth Schuurman.
“Our numbers are low and we obviously will have to be building the department back up to what it was,” Kaenrath said.
Gamble, who had been a fulltime police officer in both Ellsworth and Gouldsboro prior to his appointment as police chief, said he was exploring the possibility of a legal challenge to his firing.
He said he was called to the meeting at 5 p.m. Feb. 3, ostensibly to explain a few expenditures.
Gamble said there had been numerous complaints in the fall that the Gouldsboro police cruiser was often seen out of town.
He said Kaenrath and Selectman Jim McLean told him it would be better to use his truck when he needed to go to such locations as Bangor.
Gamble said he did so and on four occasions and used his town credit card to purchase gas for his truck.
One recent trip to Bangor was to appear in court to wrap up a case in which he was involved in his former position as police chief on Swan’s Island.
Gamble said he combined that trip with another matter — recovering two guitars from Mark’s Music in Bangor that recently were stolen from a home off Gouldsboro Point Road.
“I walked in and they handed me a piece of paper that had two receipts,” Gamble said of the meeting Feb. 3. “They said: ‘Can you explain these charges?’”
Gamble said he told the selectmen he had used the card two other times and charged $20 each time for gas he used to complete errands such as picking up uniforms and ammunition for target practice, which he said he can get at a discount in Bangor.
He said the meeting lasted about 15 to 20 minutes and at the conclusion the selectmen voted and told him, “Your services as a police chief for the town of Gouldsboro are no longer needed.”
Gamble said Hancock County Sheriff Scott Kane and Chief Deputy Pat Kane were in the lobby of the town office waiting.
“They just basically said the policy is that when a chief gets done another agency is called in to make sure you turn in your badge and gun,” said Gamble.
“The gun belonged to me and the town bought it from me for $1 so the town had responsibility for it,” he said.
Gamble said the firing came as a shock, although he said he had experienced resistance from selectmen on some of his initiatives.
“It blows my mind,” he said. “They’re wasting the taxpayer money by bringing me on. The way that I felt over the last couple of months is that they were looking for any reason to let me go. It’s been an uphill battle. Everything I tried to do was shot down.”