BAR HARBOR, Maine — The Bar Harbor Town Council heard from the town manager and from an investigator Wednesday morning while meeting to consider an appeal from the town’s fired police chief.
The council is considering whether Town Manager Dana Reed was justified in his decision to fire Nate Young, the former police chief, from the post he has held since 1991.
The appeal, at Young’s request, is being held in public session, which resulted in more than 100 people attending the hearing to observe the proceedings. The council’s meeting room was at maximum capacity of about 50 people, and another 75 or so were watching the proceedings on a video screen in an adjacent room.
Young was fired last month after being placed on paid administrative leave last fall after a Sept. 25 incident in the local village of Town Hill. Young allegedly drove drunk after officers in his department responded to a report of Young being passed out at the wheel of his pickup truck in the parking lot of a local business. Young is accused of tersely dismissing officers who came to check on him and using his position as chief to discourage the officers from taking action against him.
Young has acknowledged that he has a drinking problem, for which he has received treatment and counseling since being placed on leave. He has said that he was dealing with personal problems at the time of the incident, but he denies he was drunk when officers checked on him and denies breaking the law by being inebriated behind the wheel.
On Wednesday morning, Reed told attorneys who questioned him during the hearing that Young has done a good job for the vast majority of his tenure as the town’s police chief. But he said that an investigator hired by the town to look into the incident concluded that Young was drunk on Sept. 25, and Young inappropriately pressured his subordinate officers in the department not to take steps to enforce the law.
“He’s done a good job for a long time, but when a public employee makes a serious misstep, there are consequences,” Reed told the council.
Reed also said he felt Young behaved inappropriately during the subsequent investigation. Young never apologized or expressed remorse for the incident, the town manager said, and he publicly criticized Reed, who supervises all the town’s department heads, which Reed considered to be insubordination.
“He fought the investigation all along,” Reed said. “I thought it was obvious from the investigator’s report that he was holding himself above the law.”
Young’s attorney, Gregg Frame, has indicated that the investigation conducted by Jon Goodman, an attorney and former internal investigator with the Portland Police Department, has relied on subjective information. There is no objective evidence that has been revealed by the investigation that warrants Nate Young being fired as police chief, Frame told councilors.
Shortly after noon, the council and everyone in attendance watched a previously recorded interview with Goodman about his investigation.
The appeal hearing began around 10:30 a.m. and is expected to last several hours.
It was not clear around noon Wednesday if a decision by the council was expected to be made later in the day.
Watch bangordailynews.com for updates.