DIXFIELD – Selectmen on Monday set a special meeting for 5 p.m. Aug. 4 to discuss the disciplinary action taken against former Chief Richard Pickett late last month.

That action essentially terminated Pickett from his job as head of the town’s police department for the past decade.

Monday’s action followed a 40-minute closed session by selectmen and Town Manager Tom Richmond with town attorney Lee Bragg of the Augusta and Portland firm of Bernstein Shur.

The motion was made by Selectman James Desjardins who was one of the three board members who voted not to renew Pickett’s contract at the end of June. Also voting last month not to renew were board Chairwoman Bettina Martin and Selectman Raymond Carlton. Selectman Brad Dyer, one of the two selectmen who voted against the majority to terminate Pickett’s position, seconded the motion for the special meeting. Selectman Norine Clarke had also voted not to terminate Pickett.

All five selectmen agreed discuss the matter next Monday.

Richmond said whether the special session is closed or open will be determined by Pickett. If it is held behind closed doors, then selectmen will meet with Pickett, his attorney, Phil Coffin, Bragg, and Richmond.

The majority of selectmen voted not to renew Pickett’s contract because they believe some of Pickett’s comments made at the May 22 annual town meeting were insubordinate.

At the annual town meeting, a majority of residents attending voted to overrule a recommendation by selectmen to reduce the Dixfield Police Department from four full-time people to three. The majority kept the current four-person department.

Newly promoted Sgt. Jeff Howe has served as interim police chief since Pickett’s contract was not renewed. Officers Eric Bernier and Chuck Beale, along with several reserve officers, have also served to help maintain 24-hour police coverage.

Also on Monday, Richmond said he received word this week that the Maine Department of Labor had approved unemployment benefits for Pickett beginning July 29.

Pickett has said he wanted his job back. He also said that he and his attorney had not yet decided whether to bring a wrongful termination suit against the town.

The board will also set the tax rate for 2008-09 at the Aug. 4 special meeting.



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