SACO — An investigation of Saco’s police chief and a deputy police chief is now under the purview of the Saco City Council.

Police Chief Raynald Demers and Deputy Chief Corey Huntress were placed on paid administrative leave on March 15 for reasons that have not been made public.

City employees were notified that day in a letter from Saco City Administrator Kevin Sutherland of his decision to place the two police department leaders on administrative leave.

Sutherland read aloud a written statement at a March 18 City Council workshop, and said the city was using a trusted third investigator appointed by the city attorney to, over the next few weeks, conduct a careful and thorough investigation.

“Administrative leave is used to protect an investigation and all of our employees. It is not meant to be punitive. It does not and should not admit or force guilt,” said Sutherland.

Sutherland said he trusted and respected the work the police department leadership had contributed to the community, and with the number of internal statements and allegations it would be best to “put some space between everyone” and bring in a third-party investigator to ensure a fair and just review.

“This is a process used in many workplaces. It just happens to be more noticeable when used in the public sector,” Sutherland said. “Please understand that due to the sensitive nature of the process, this investigation will be done in a manner that protects the privacy of all involved to the greatest extent possible.”

The Saco City Council met in a closed-door executive session on Monday night to discuss its role in the investigation.

According to the Saco City Charter, “The City Council may make investigations into the affairs of the city and the conduct of any city department, office, agency, board or commission.”

City councilors came out of executive session late Monday night and voted unanimously that the investigation Sutherland began this month would be under the jurisdiction of the Saco City Council.

“The City Council has accepted the police department investigation opened by the city administrator and all future activity will be under the purview of the City Council until the matter is resolved,” said Saco City Councilor Alan Minthorn on Monday night.

Deputy Police Chief Jack Clements is serving as acting police chief during the investigation.

Portland Press Herald Staff Writer Gillian Graham contributed to this story.

Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 780-9015 or at:
[email protected]

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