Westbrook’s Administration reprimanded the city’s fire inspector this week for removing a shotgun and shells from an unlocked police cruiser in January and rebuked the police chief for allowing his top officers to arrest him.

The city has decided not to take disciplinary action against either Fire Inspector Lt. Chuck Jarrett or Police Chief Paul McCarthy for their actions.

In a letter dated March 6, City Administrator Jerre Bryant reprimanded the fire inspector, saying his actions were “inappropriate” and “unauthorized.” Bryant said Jarrett could have “arguably” put the public and coworkers at risk.

Jarrett removed the shotgun and its shells from an unlocked police cruiser parked in front of his fire inspection vehicle in a fire department bay in the Public Safety Building and left “the weapon and ammunition in or on the police vehicle,” according to the letter.

Jarrett told the city he was trying to address a potentially dangerous situation – loaded weapons left in unlocked police cruisers – when he removed the weapon and ammunition from the police car, according to the letter. However, the city said Jarrett should have taken the matter up with the fire department’s administration instead.

“There has been a thorough investigation by an independent party,” Jarrett said. “I have accepted responsibility for my actions and intend to move forward personally and professionally. I want to apologize for any embarrassment I may have caused to the city and those people I serve and work with.”

Police arrested Jarrett for removing the gun and ammunition and charged him with violating a protection from abuse court order. His name did not appear in the public police log when he was arrested. On behalf of the city, the law firm Jensen, Baird, Gardner and Henry is continuing to investigate why his name was ommitted from the log.

In a similar letter, also sent on March 6, the city rebuked McCarthy for arresting him. “Our review strongly suggests that the arrest was misguided,” reads the letter. “The time expended by two of the department’s top officers on this matter was a misuse of our resources on a matter which should have been handled administratively and not criminally.”

“I hope we can put this matter behind us and move on in a professional manner,” said McCarthy. He declined to comment further on the city’s rebuke.

Peter Evans, Jarrett’s attorney, was unavailable for comment yesterday afternoon and his office declined to say whether any changes in the criminal investigation have occurred as a result of the administration’s decision.

“I would assert that it was not a violation of the protection order,” Evans said for a previous story. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the charge got dismissed.”

McCarthy said police policy requires that police vehicles be turned off and locked when unattended and that shotguns be locked in an “electric shotgun security rack.” However, an exception was made for vehicles parked in the fire department bay during snow or ice storms. This is so any public safety officer may be able to move them in case of an emergency.

The administration reinstated Jarrett with the stipulation that he would be “closely supervised” and any further “actions of this nature” would be dealt with in a disciplinary manner. In the letter, Bryant said Jarrett was “a quality, dedicated employee of the Westbrook Fire Department” whose “efforts and achievements as the city’s fire inspector are exemplary.”

“Chuck is happy to come back to work, and we’re happy to have him back. We need to move on,” said Tina Crellin, Westbrook human resources director.

Bryant’s letter to McCarthy stipulated that two of Westbrook’s top officers, Capt. Tom Roth and Det. Steve Lyons, were misused on the investigation and that McCarthy should have handled it as a personnel matter and not a criminal matter.

“Your failure to re-direct their activities toward a more appropriate and productive use of their time constitutes a failure to properly supervise and manage the department and its personnel,” said Bryant.

“The protracted labor contract dispute made it more difficult for you to fully assert your leadership of department employees. You now must become the more affirmative leader your department needs.” In the letter to McCarthy, Bryant called him “a quality individual, a respected career law enforcement official and an influential community leader.”

“He needs to be a leader of that department,” said Mayor Bruce Chuluda. “The process we went through brought us to that conclusion. It brought some things to light. It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances and embarrasses the city and its departments. I can assure the residents we’re going to fix the problems and move forward, put it behind us.”


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