Saco Police Chief Raynald Demers has announced plans to retire only weeks after being cleared in a misconduct investigation.

Demers, 58, has served the city since 1984, taking over as chief in December 2016 after the previous chief retired. His last day of work is June 14.

The chief could not be reached Wednesday or Thursday to talk about his decision or the investigation, although city officials released his letter of resignation.

“I cannot overstate how important your continued belief in my ability to lead the Saco Police Department and your trust that I always had the City and the Police Departments best interest in mind means to me,” said the May 31 letter, addressed to City Administrator Kevin Sutherland.

The allegations against Demers have yet to be aired publicly, but the local police employees’ union in March declared it had no confidence in Demers and a deputy chief, Corey Huntress.

After his reinstatement, the union delivered a letter to city officials saying the officers and command staff continued to lack confidence in the chief. Some said they would now leave the department because of what the letter described as a toxic environment.

“There were people who felt that (Demers) was a tough taskmaster,” Mayor Marston Lovell said Thursday, “but if you check with police chiefs around here, that’s part of the job.”

Still, Lovell said, “over a period of time you can alienate folks.”

Demers and his deputy were placed on paid administrative leave starting March 15 as the city investigated allegations of misconduct that have not been publicly disclosed.

Police union representatives sent a no-confidence letter to the city a week later. Its details also remain under wraps; city officials have refused to release the letter, citing personnel regulations.

The city hired an outside investigator who eventually cleared Demers and Huntress of misconduct. After their reinstatement became public, in May, union members told the Press Herald that the police administrators had created a toxic work environment that led to turnover in the department.

Those public statements “made (Demers) less comfortable when he returned to duty,” Lovell said, and contributed to the chief’s decision to retire.

The mayor declined to share any details of Demers’ separation agreement, saying those matters were under the city administrator’s purview in the city charter.

Union leaders and their attorney did not respond to interview requests Thursday.

Sutherland, the city administrator, was out of the office Thursday and could not be reached to discuss the chief’s departure or provide the terms of any separation agreement.

Huntress will stay on, city officials said, and Deputy Chief Jack Clements will head the department while the city searches for a new chief.

State records indicate Demers put in notice to collect retirement benefits starting July 1. He will receive an estimated $5,450 per month, according to the Maine Public Employees Retirement System.

City councilors Thursday also declined to discuss the details of Demers’ performance and misconduct investigation, saying legal concerns prevented them from addressing personnel matters.

For the past several meetings, the council has gone behind closed doors to discuss personnel matters and returned to public session without further comment.

“We’re very limited in what we can say without putting the city in a precarious situation” legally, Councilman William Doyle said.

Asked about Demers’ strengths as a chief, Doyle paused for a beat, and said, “I don’t want to Monday-morning quarterback somebody that’s retiring, especially when there’s been so much controversy about the administrative leave he was on.”

“He was hired, he filled the job of chief, and now he’s retiring,” Doyle said.

Lovell praised Demers’ “three decades of good, honorable, intelligent, decisive service,” while also recognizing the “real feeling among those that put that (union) letter together.”

The letter said that “every officer, detective, corporal, and sergeant” lacked confidence in the chief and deputy chief.

“The hostility, degradation, and belittling we have received from them over the years has left wounds that cannot be healed,” it said.

At the time, Demers and Huntress’ attorney, Stacey Neumann, released a statement saying the two men had the “utmost respect for the union and its members” but were confident they had committed no misconduct.

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