The investigation into alleged misconduct by the Saco police chief and a deputy chief could take several more weeks, according to a city official.

Police Chief Raynald Demers and Deputy Chief Corey Huntress were placed on paid administrative leave on March 15 for reasons that have still not been publicly disclosed. City Administrator Kevin Sutherland initially said the city would hire a third-party investigator to lead a two-week investigation, but now says the investigation could last several more weeks.

Sutherland notified department employees in a letter of his decision to place Demers and Huntress on leave. The letter, which was obtained by News Center Maine (WCSH/WLBZ), did not explain why the men were placed on leave, but indicated the decision came after Sutherland talked to department employees about communication issues.

Sutherland told police department employees in the letter that the “third-party investigator” would be available to talk to employees about their concerns.

Sutherland said the legal firm of Bernstein Shur, the city’s attorney for this issue, was given the authority to choose and hire an investigator. An estimate of the cost to hire the investigator is not yet available, he said.

“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,” Sutherland said in a statement read during a March 18 City Council workshop.

Sutherland and other officials have since declined to discuss details of the investigation, saying it is ongoing and involves a personnel issue.

Shortly after Demers and Huntress were placed on leave, the City Council met in executive session to discuss its role in the investigation. Councilors then voted unanimously to move the investigation under the board’s jurisdiction.

“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,” City Councilor Alan Minthorn said after the vote.

Demers was appointed police chief in December 2016 after the previous chief retired. Demers had been deputy chief of operations for the previous six years and has worked for the city for more than 30 years.

Huntress serves as deputy chief of operations, overseeing all uniformed patrol officer, communications and specialty services. He is second in command at the department.

Deputy Police Chief Jack Clements, normally third in command at the department, is serving as acting police chief during the investigation.


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