Gov.-elect Janet Mills announced Friday that she will nominate former Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck to head the Maine Department of Public Safety. Sauschuck became Portland’s assistant city manager just four months ago.

The incoming Democratic governor also announced she would nominate Randy Liberty, the warden of the Maine State Prison, to be commissioner of the Department of Corrections.

Sauschuck served as the police chief for Maine’s largest city for six years, from 2012 until this August, when he took the post of assistant city manager. Liberty has been state prison warden since 2015, after 26 years in the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, including nine years as the elected sheriff. Both men are military veterans.

“The fundamental charge of any government is to protect the safety and well-being of its citizens,” Mills said in a statement. “With decades of experience, Mike and Randy are leaders of the highest order who are well-positioned to fulfill that critical mission and who are well-respected across the board. ”

Both men thanked Mills for the nominations.

“It will be my goal to lead a Department of Public Safety that not only protects the safety and welfare of the people of Maine, but that is also professional, accountable, and transparent,” Sauschuck said in a statement. “I am inspired by Maine’s law enforcement officers every day, and I will strive to be a commissioner who they and our state can be proud of.”

Liberty said he has made a life of public service, both in law enforcement and the military.

“I will work every day to implement best practices and take thoughtful, innovative approaches to reduce recidivism and help those in prison take responsibility, turn their lives around, and become productive, contributing members of our society,” Liberty said in a statement.

Mills and Sauschuck held a brief news conference at Portland City Hall. Mills cited Sauschuck’s long record of law enforcement leadership and his “progressive approach” to key issues such as community policing, the opioid epidemic, homelessness and police responses to people in mental health crises.

“Those are all very important issues to us in government and I believe Mike Sauschuck brings the appropriate approach to all those issues in public safety,” Mills said.

Both discussed the opioid epidemic as a key priority, which Mills pledged to address on day one of her administration.

“To me, and I’ve been very vocal about this, the number one step we need to take is Medicaid expansion, and how that is going to assist all of those who need recovery,” Sauschuck said.

Sauschuck said he learned from City Manager Jon Jennings that the Mills transition team was searching for applicants. Less than a day later, Mills offered him the job.

Sauschuck, 48, grew up in Franklin County in the town of Madrid and started his career in law enforcement with the Old Orchard Beach Police Department in 1994.

In 1997, he was hired by the Portland Police Department and progressed steadily through the ranks to become chief. He led the largest municipal police department in the state, with authority over 223 employees and a $16.6 million budget.

If confirmed, Sauschuck would oversee the Capitol Police, consolidated emergency communications, the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, Emergency Medical Services, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Gambling Control, Highway Safety and the Maine State Police.

Sauschuck served in the Marine Corps from 1988 to 1993, including stints in San Salvador, El Salvador, and Moscow, providing security and protection for top-secret areas of the U.S. Embassy. Sauschuck will replace John Morris, a former Waterville police chief who was appointed by Gov. Paul LePage in January 2011. Morris is one of a handful of LePage Cabinet members to serve for the entirety of his two terms in office.

Jennings praised Sauschuck’s nomination, calling Mills’ selection “fantastic.”

“He has a long history of service to our country and to the public and is one of those unique individuals who leads by example, has a commitment to excellence in all that he does, is intensely loyal, and has unmatched integrity,” Jennings said in a statement.

Liberty, 54, has more than 36 years of experience in the fields of corrections and law enforcement. He served in the military for 24 years, including 21 years in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve. He served as a military policeman, mountain infantryman, drill sergeant and chief instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Liberty deployed to South Korea, Italy, and for 10 months as command sergeant major of a transition team embedded with Iraqi infantry in Fallujah, Iraq. His military awards include the Bronze Star for actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Staff Writer Matt Byrne contributed to this report.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

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