Livermore Falls chief off the job

LIVERMORE FALLS — Police Chief Ernest N. Steward Jr. has been suspended.

Or he has not. It depends on who you ask.

Associates of Steward said the chief was suspended at the start of the week, relieved of duty until the start of next week. They say the suspension was the result of a disagreement with Town Manager James Chaousis over how the Police Department is run.

Chaousis did not see it that way.

“I wouldn’t call it a suspension,” he said Thursday. “Chief Steward is on a special project.”

Chaousis did not elaborate on what that project might entail, though he said the chief was due back Sept. 27.

A reporter who called the police station earlier in the week was told Steward was on vacation.

Steward himself, police chief for nearly 20 years, did not return telephone messages Wednesday to clarify the nature of his week off.

A colleague said Steward has hired a lawyer to represent him in the recent turn of events.

The focus of the disagreement between the men was not known. In the past, the two have failed to see eye to eye on many matters pertaining to police work.

Last year, Steward refused to sign off on a new communications system until it was completely hooked up. The system was finally in place late in the summer. Steward signed off and then received a bill for $11,000 that should have come out of last year's budget.

Earlier in the year, Steward was disciplined for putting an opinion piece in the town report.

More recently, Chaousis has been exploring a restructuring of police shifts and the possibility of turning over police services to another agency, such as the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department.

It was not clear Wednesday where Steward stands on those matters.

mlaflamme@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

dont think so

I dont think the people in Bethel are so happy anymore ! I think you should spend a day there and ask them.They are very unhappy. Service is very slow.

Town Manager

Maybe it is time to start looking for a new one, but bet he has a contract for umpteen years! I am sure Ernie Steward has done the very best he could with what he has had to work with. Things have gone down hill ever since the dispatch centers were consolidated in both Livermore Falls and Jay. I guess we get what we pay for!

Marjorie Grover's picture

Who is telling the truth

Who is telling the truth about the cheif?????I would quicker believe Ernie Steward or his fellow officers than Mr.Chaousis. It seems that Mr.Chaousis has made alot of errors in town and I am glad that I do not live or pay taxes to Livermore Falls. The town has gone to the DOGS and ihas become a place for DRUGGIES?DEALERS and drunks and people who lie to get a free ride off town welfare.

Edward Leahy's picture

Low, Low Prices?

Town Manager James Chaousis is not the first person who wants public safety at "Wal-Mart" prices. Everyone should agree with the Town Manager! Since the Chief is not part of a union. If he disagrees with an idea that is obviously not good for the community, he can be made to go away for a little while until he smartens up. (Let's just call it a Special Assignment") Yes, times are tight, and you want the most for your tax dollars. In my opinion, cutting the number of officers or having rent-a-cops in town are not the best option. The Cheif seems to have done a good job for twenty years, odd he should fall apart after getting this town manager? Since the Town Manager works for the selectmen, he MUST be doing this with their permission. Remember, once the department goes away, it'll be too expensive to ever bring it back.

Fred Stone's picture

This would

be a good job for you Tron, seeing you are an expert at everything.

Jay Haley's picture

Has the chief found a lead

Has the chief found a lead in the missing wallet caper? Has he gone deep undercover in an attempt to apprehend the culprit?

 's picture

Tough spot

The town manager in Livermore Falls has a tough job ahead of him. The closing of the Otis mill resulted in a huge loss in revenue for the town. That loss is not going to be replaced so all services are going to have to be scrutinized closely. It is not like he is talking about asking the town to go without police services just that farming that out to the county sheriffs dept could provide that service for less money, something has to give here. Bethel has done this for similar reasons and has done so with out issue. So if you folks have got a better way of reducing the cost of running these small towns speak up, get involved, but accept that things have to change like it or not.

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