BETHEL – Municipal work by police and Town Manager Scott Cole continued as usual on Tuesday, the day after selectmen unanimously declined to act on grievances made against Cole by police Chief Alan Carr.

Since February, both men have been embroiled in a dispute over Cole’s actions regarding Carr and police department issues.

Last week, Carr brought an eight-part complaint to selectmen, accusing the town manager of misappropriating the police budget and undermining Carr’s authority.

Selectmen convened a special board meeting on Monday in the town office to address those grievances in public session at Cole’s request. It followed a 10-minute conference behind closed doors with town attorney Matthew Tarasevich of Portland. Discussions lasted about 20 minutes before Selectman Dennis Doyon motioned that because the board failed to find any substantiated information regarding Carr’s complaints, no further action should be taken.

Neither Carr nor his attorney, Catherine Lynch of Portland, responded to calls for comment on Tuesday.

Cole, however, said he felt vindicated by selectmen.

“What happens now is that life goes on,” Cole said by phone on Tuesday afternoon in the town office. “What the chief submitted as complaints and my response to that, speaks for itself. The complaints were baseless, and the selectmen agreed. So, we’re just going to keep doing our jobs here. We all want the best for the town and the Police Department.”

At Monday night’s meeting, Selectmen Chairman Stan Howe read each complaint, then sought comment from the board. The alleged complaints were that Cole:

• has worked to undermine Carr’s authority as police chief;

• routinely tells new and existing officers that Bethel is a nice place to start a career, but isn’t a long-term position;

• has created a pattern of disruption leading to the exodus of three officers;

• has mismanaged the Police Department budget;

• has mismanaged the Police Department by failing to pay a former sergeant on a salary basis as opposed to hourly regarding on-call status;

• took money from the Police Department budget to cover last year’s $27,000 settlement for on-call back pay to Lt. Shayne White;

• tried to undermine Carr by conversing with the chief’s subordinates regarding the future of Carr’s job; and

• proposed a “quid pro quo” arrangement with White regarding the chief’s job.

Selectmen responded to five of the eight complaints at length, according to a transcript of the public session. However, they chose not to discuss the alleged conversations, for which they were given no documented information.

Selectmen Don Bennett and Dennis Doyon did most of the talking. Both said some of the complaints pertained to labor difficulties, not misconduct on Cole’s part, the transcript stated.

“It’s an issue all around the state,” Doyon said. “You’re going to lose officers due to pay, benefits, or whatever. That’s just a fact of life. The town wants to have their own police department, which is great. But, you know, then again, there is only so many dollars.”

Regarding the more serious allegation of mismanaging police department funds, Doyon said that pertained to about $27,000, which Bridgton reimbursed to Bethel as payment for training an officer who quit Bethel to work for Bridgton police.

Carr claimed the money should be returned to his department; selectmen instead ruled it goes into the general fund.

After the discussion, Howe attempted to state Carr’s requests that the board launch an independent investigation of the town manager’s conduct regarding the allegations of police budget misappropriation and misconduct, the transcript noted. That’s when Doyon interrupted to end the matter.

“I just don’t see how we can go any further with it,” Bennett added, prior to the vote.


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