Dustin Broughton is shown in this photo illustration in 2015 when he was a Dixfield police officer. In 2019 he conducted an unauthorized patrol of neighboring Mexico, which prompted him to lose his job. Mexico then hired him. Credit: Visual by Sawyer Loftus / BDN

Dustin Broughton was driving his patrol car through the town of Dixfield on March 19, 2019, when he decided to veer off his route.

The officer drove out of Dixfield — the Oxford County town that paid him to ensure its safety — and crossed into neighboring Mexico to patrol that town without permission. He passed a Mexico police officer.

Broughton called the Mexico officer on his cellphone and said, “Did you see me?” During the call, Broughton told the officer that he “got bored” of his town and decided to do a quick patrol of Mexico instead, the Mexico officer said.

The Mexico Police Department told Dixfield officials about Broughton’s actions, which violated the officer’s obligation to his town and led to him losing his job. Dixfield officers were not allowed to work across town lines if there was no emergency or request for mutual aid.

“Town citizens and the Board of Selectmen consider it a major breach of duty for Dixfield patrol officers to be performing unauthorized patrols in neighboring towns when they are being paid by the town of Dixfield’s tax dollars,” said Jennifer Kreckel, Dixfield’s attorney, in public records obtained by the Bangor Daily News.

But despite knowing about — and reporting — Broughton’s misbehavior, Mexico then hired him. Later, Broughton went on to shoot two people.

The details about Broughton’s misconduct come from previously undisclosed public records filed with the Maine Human Rights Commission, which provide more context about the history of an officer who has drawn scrutiny for his shootings.

Broughton’s two shootings in the span of 12 months as a Mexico police officer have concerned some in the community. It is rare for police officers in Maine to fire their guns once on duty, let alone twice.

Mexico police Chief Roy Hodsdon declined to answer questions about Broughton’s hiring or conduct, or to make Broughton available for an interview.

About two weeks after his unauthorized patrol of Mexico, Broughton’s boss at the time, Sgt. Ron Wood, who was serving as the interim Dixfield police chief, threatened to suspend Broughton if he didn’t admit he was wrong to leave Dixfield. But conversations with former Town Manager Dustin Starbuck resulted in Broughton only being taken off the schedule.

Broughton said he left Dixfield to help another officer in Mexico who had multiple people in custody, according to his version of events that night. A human rights commission investigator could not substantiate his account but said Broughton and his fellow officers had been previously reminded not to conduct unauthorized patrols outside of Dixfield.

“This is not the first time Supervisor has told officers of the policy not to patrol outside of respondent’s town boundaries,” the commission investigator wrote in her report. “[T]here is still enough evidence in the record to substantiate that the policy was in place at the time Complainant violated it.”

In June 2019, Dixfield selectmen decided not to reappoint Broughton because he wouldn’t take responsibility for his actions, according to the human rights commission records.

Those records show Broughton was at odds with the Dixfield Police Department, which has since closed.

In his December 2019 human rights complaint, Broughton alleged that his boss, Wood, harassed him based on his perceived sexual orientation by making inappropriate comments and jokes about Broughton being gay. He alleged that the town then retaliated by firing him when he reported that harassment — not for his misconduct.

But the commission determined that his complaint was unfounded in part because Broughton wouldn’t provide his sexual orientation.

Broughton also filed his human rights complaint against Dixfield after his boss had threatened to suspend him for his unauthorized patrol of Mexico. Ultimately, the human rights commission ruled that Broughton didn’t have grounds to sue Dixfield.

While the human rights commission didn’t determine that Broughton’s rights were violated, the interim police chief did make inappropriate comments to him, Starbuck, the town manager, found, according to a letter Starbuck sent to Broughton.

In one instance in 2019, Wood allegedly asked Broughton if he could work a shift during an upcoming weekend. Broughton told Wood he couldn’t because the high school wrestling team that he helped coach had a tournament.

Wood “then made the comment, ‘Do you get turned on watching those young guys in their tight uniforms?’” Broughton said in his complaint. “I then made the comment, ‘I don’t care if you are a supervisor, I have no problem telling you off.’”

The human rights commission documents redact most names, but contextual information reveals who they are.

Broughton filed a human resources complaint on April 30, 2019, with Dixfield officials, outlining multiple times Wood made inappropriate comments to him. Wood was given a verbal reprimand for the conduct, according to records provided by the town to the human rights commission.

Broughton remains an active police officer in Mexico. In October 2021, seven months after being hired full-time in Mexico, he shot Matthew Marston in Dixfield. Marston later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the chief medical examiner.

About a year later, in October 2022, Broughton shot Daniel Tibbetts in Mexico. Tibbetts survived the encounter.

Despite shooting two men within about a year, little is known about the circumstances as the shootings have not yet been cleared by the Maine attorney general’s office. The office investigates all police shootings to determine if they were criminal acts, but it has never found officers unjustified for using deadly force.

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Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is an investigative reporter at the Bangor Daily News. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he worked for Vermont Public Radio, The Burlington Free Press...