PARIS — Innocent until proven guilty was the message from town officials and residents at the first selectmen meeting since police Chief Michael Madden was charged with drunken driving three weeks ago.
Asking that judgment and action be reserved until after all the evidence came to light, residents told selectmen — the police chief’s boss — the situation deserved due process.
Selectmen issued a joint statement Monday saying they have launched an independent investigation into the incident. Citing town policy and employee rights laws, they declined to comment specifically.
Madden, 50, was stopped by a Cumberland County Sheriff’s deputy on Harrison Road in Naples just after midnight Nov. 21 for driving erratically, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.
Madden was reportedly cooperative, transported to the Bridgton Police Department, booked and issued a summons on a charge of operating under the influence. As reported by the Advertiser Democrat, the deputy drove him home.
Madden returned to work Nov. 29, according to town officials.
He is scheduled to appear for arraignment in Bridgton District Court on Jan. 20, after which the results of a blood-alcohol test will be released. A copy of the deputy’s report log from the evening has been sealed until after Madden’s court appointment, a spokesperson for the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office previously said.
Reading aloud a news release, Board of Selectmen Chairman Ryan Lorrain said the personnel matter must remain confidential.
“Be assured that this matter is under investigation and please understand that we are unable to comment upon specifics at this time. Findings will not be made public until the investigation is complete and any appeal of that decision is finalized,” Lorrain said.
Resident Mike Risica said the issue should run its proper course, saying the chief had done an outstanding job in making the department more professional.
“I think you guys ought to give him a fair shot,” Risica said.
Resident Kathy Richardson seconded that.
“We need to hear the results of the investigation. Unless there’s God sitting in this room, I think we need to reserve judgment,” Richardson said.
Rick Little asked if an operating under the influence conviction would bar an employee from getting insurance, and Town Manager Amy Bernard said she didn’t have the information readily available.
Town officials have not acknowledged Madden was charged with operating under the influence. In the letter read aloud Monday evening, the statement read: “We are all aware that there was (an) incident involving Chief Madden and the Cumberland County Sheirff’s Office in November.”
Resident Lawrence Reid however voiced his disapproval, saying that drinking and driving is a conscious, meditated choice and that the chief had “lost my trust.”
“I don’t think it’s a thing that should be forgiven,” Reid said.