PARIS – The Board of Selectmen voted Tuesday night to allow the public to participate in an independent audit of the Police Department, but to do so in private conversations.
Selectmen agreed last month to spend up to $6,000 for an audit of the Police Department by the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, saying it would be good for the department simply as a peer evaluation.
Board members did not say at the time whether there were any specific concerns about the department. Earlier, however, a few residents had complained about Chief David Verrier and referenced a letter by a former Paris police officer who criticized him.
At Tuesday night's meeting, selectmen said they were concerned about personal matters being discussed in public.
Acting Town Manager Elizabeth Knox said the board had the choice to allow a public hearing or to allow individual members of the public to speak to the auditor in private.
“I'm concerned about accusations being made. I'm a little uncomfortable with it,” Selectman Bob Kirchherr said of the proposed public hearing process.
Board members were told that no names would be in the final report.
The public will be notified by a newspaper advertisement that any member of the public may call the Maine Chiefs of Police Association number, which will be published, to set up an individual and private interview with one of the three members of the auditing panel.
The auditors are expected to speak to members of the Police Department to examine the department's procedures and policies, patrol methods and other issues as part of the audit.
The Maine Chiefs of Police Association is a statewide group with a mission “to secure a unity of action in law enforcement matters; to enhance the standards of police personnel, police training and police professionalism generally,” according to its website.
It is comprised of more than 350 members, including active and retired chiefs, sheriffs and senior law enforcement leaders.