December 31, 2012

Fairfield hires lawyer for internal review of police chief

John Emery has been on suspension since Wednesday; all parties remain silent on details

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

FAIRFIELD -- The town plans to conduct its own review of a situation involving police Chief John Emery, who has been on leave since Wednesday.

click image to enlarge

John Emery in 2003.

"We are going to be doing an internal review, and it will begin this week," Town Manager Josh Reny said Monday. "We've hired an attorney to do that -- someone who specializes in that type of thing. Right now, there are a lot of unanswered questions."

Emery is on paid administrative leave and family medical leave, according to Reny. An incident occurred Dec. 24 near Emery's home on Palmer Road in Skowhegan, but police will not say what happened or whether the incident involved Emery. Reny said Monday he does not know whether Emery is connected to the Palmer Road incident.

More than a dozen law enforcement officials from four agencies responded to the 2:49 p.m. call about a "mental subject" -- a police radio term. Police said someone was taken into custody, but no charges were filed.

Meanwhile, Fairfield town councilors will be updated Wednesday about the police chief's situation in an executive session, which is closed to the public, according to Reny. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Fairfield Community Center.

"We have a few new town councilors to be seated," Reny said. "I suspected there may be some questions regarding what's currently happening, so I put that on the agenda so I could bring the council up to speed on the chief's employment, assignment and duties."

He said Emery is on medical leave and officials are not going to speak about his health and well-being.

"Right now, I'm trying to respect the chief's privacy," he said. "We're doing what we need to do -- cross t's, dot i's, and that's all. We're going through the process; we're doing the right thing."

Reny said the council will take no votes Wednesday after emerging from executive session. Emery's employment with the town "is certainly not in question," he said.

The Skowhegan Police Department is investigating the Dec. 24 incident. Police Chief Michael Emmons did not return a message left Monday at his office. He said last week that the case is under investigation and he had no further comment.

Emery requested and was granted paid family medical leave, according to Reny, who also placed him on administrative leave with pay, as of Wednesday.

Emery's wife, Liza, answered the telephone at the couple's home Monday.

"We're not taking any calls," she said. "Thank you."

Asked who is in charge at the Police Department while Emery is on leave, Reny said Detective Sgt. Kingston Paul is the next-highest-ranking official in the department.

"If something comes up, he would be the point of contact," Reny said.

He added that Sgts. Matthew Bard and Paul St. Amand also are Police Department contacts. Bard is on duty in the evenings, and St. Amand, who recently was promoted to sergeant, works during the day.

The Town Council on Wednesday is scheduled to elect a chairman, vice chairman and secretary. Outgoing councilors will be recognized.

Chairman Edward Finch, an outgoing councilor, said Monday that he could not discuss personnel matters. Councilor Donald Giroux, who also is departing, said he did not have information about the police chief's situation.

Amy Calder -- 861-9247

acalder@centralmaine.com

 

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