Sheriff to let legal action stand

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AUBURN – Sheriff Guy Desjardins said he doesn’t plan to pursue further legal action following a judge’s decision denying him an injunction to hire a patrol officer.

Instead, he has resubmitted Maurice Drouin’s name to the commission. Drouin reapplied for the job after commissioners told Desjardins to start the hiring process anew. He hopes the commission will take it up at its Aug. 1 meeting. He is currently a Livermore Falls officer.

Androscoggin Superior Court Justice Joyce A. Wheeler handed down a decision Tuesday siding with commissioners in the ongoing battle over the creation of a new patrol position.

“In my opinion and our attorney’s opinion it completely serves the purpose to show that the County Commission acted 100 percent within the law and the county is totally vindicated by not allowing the sheriff to violate or circumvent it,” said commission Chairman Elmer Berry during Wednesday’s commissioners’ meeting.

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Desjardins told reporters after the meeting that the decision wasn’t what he wanted, but he feels confident that he can get the new officer on the road soon.

He said the controversy happened because of miscommunications, something he has assumed partial responsibility for.

“My goal is the same today as it was back in November when I got involved as sheriff-elect in the budget process,” Desjardins said. “And that was to get additional staff on the road.”

Problems started when, months back, the commission blocked the hiring of an additional night patrol deputy after the Budget Committee approved the position. Desjardins started the hiring process anyway and selected Drouin. Eventually the commission approved the position, but demanded Desjardins start the hiring process all over again. This did not suit Desjardins, so he sued, resulting in Tuesday’s decision.

Wheeler “did exactly what I was looking for,” Desjardins said. “She gave us direction and she gave us interpretation. Yes we have laws, but laws are made to be interpreted. When you throw laws, collective bargaining agreements and policies together, there was more gray than there was clarity, as far as I’m concerned.”

In his statement, Berry cited several statutes giving the commission final authority to approve a position.

“The sheriff is responsible for administering and directing the sheriff’s department as authorized by the county budget, these duties relate to managing the sheriff’s department and not to creating new positions,” he read. “The commissioners … are responsible for creating and authorizing the filling of new positions.”

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