PARIS — Scott Parker finally got a chance on Thursday to respond in public to allegations that he misused Oxford County E-911 database information from FairPoint for a mass-notification system.
The county’s Emergency Management Agency director of six years said he’s done nothing illegal, an assertion bolstered by District Attorney Norm Croteau.
“I have not been charged in writing or verbally with any violation of county policy or state law, yet I have been put on administrative leave for 26 days,” Parker said to commissioners, Sheriff Wayne Gallant, and County Administrator Scott Cole.
He is accused of sharing confidential FairPoint lists of names, addresses and phone numbers — whether unlisted or not — with public safety officials in five towns.
That was as far as he got with training sessions on May 25 before Gallant ordered him to stop, stay away from town offices, leave distributed E-911 database information in place, and refrain from handling printed database information stored within the county EMA office in Paris.
Deputies seized information from all 36 county towns and database information Parker distributed to Brownfield, Paris, Canton, Newry and Greenwood.
In two executive sessions last month, Cole pressed commissioners to fire Parker, saying he didn’t heed Gallant’s instructions or that of his staff, who told Parker that printing and sharing the information is illegal.
Parker and his lawyer Daniel L. Cummings contend it isn’t illegal, because Parker as the county EMA director is mandated by Maine law Title 37-B to prepare all towns and the county for natural and manmade hazards.
But Gallant shared concerns on Thursday night that statutorily confidential information had been unlawfully placed in public domain.
He expressed fears that his deputies’ and law enforcement officers’ unlisted phone numbers, and those of domestic violence victims and people who’ve taken out protection orders, would be accessed by people intent on doing them harm.
The database was being used for CityWatch, a new mass-notification system designed to warn residents in harms way of impending danger with one phone call instead of sending police and firefighters knocking on doors.
On Thursday, Parker requested and was granted the public session.
After listening to Cole’s summation of the background and his reasons for firing Parker, and testimony from Gallant, Parker’s EMA staff, and James Miclon, director of the county’s 911 Communications Center, the embattled EMA director read a prepared statement.
It was directed at Cole, Gallant, Commissioners David Duguay, Caldwell Jackson and Steven Merrill, and Bryan Dench, the commissioner’s lawyer, who ran the session like a court hearing.
Based on data he’s collected during the past five years, Parker said he determined the county needed a mass-notification system.
Commissioners granted him permission to pursue and apply for a grant to acquire the system at no cost to county residents.
He said he chose CityWatch because of its effectiveness in Cumberland County, which has been using it for four years.
When informed by his staff that the process for which he was using FairPoint’s database information might be illegal, Parker said he contacted FairPoint.
A FairPoint official, he said, consented to his proposed use in writing. Since then, other FairPoint officials have backed off on the consent.
“Once three members of the towns (out of the fire chief, police chief, local EMA, town clerk, and selectmen) have been trained and have a password to access CityWatch, they can see the complete town database, but for their towns only,” Parker said.
He said it’s the same database printed and disseminated to the five county towns.
On May 26, he said Sheriff Gallant contacted him and said he might be violating the law, so Parker said he returned to his office and turned off the CityWatch program.
Parker said Cole, who has no authority over the EMA director, then ordered him to turn in his office access keys and cell phone, not to enter the building unless invited, and to have no contact with his staff.
He cooperated with the investigation.
“This was an informal investigation,” Parker said. “No one was ‘read their rights.’”
On June 1, the investigation results were sent to District Attorney Croteau, who subsequently concluded in a June 6 letter that there was no intent to commit a crime.
Therefore, no charges would be filed against Parker.
“There is no indication that any of the database information has been used for any improper purpose,” Croteau wrote.
Commissioners, however, postponed their decision until Monday, July 11, to review Thursday night's testimony.