The chief of the police force that provides security at the Maine State House apologized Friday for social media posts dating to last summer in which he criticized the Black Lives Matter movement and questioned the results of the November presidential election.

In other posts, Capitol Police Chief Russ Gauvin has been skeptical of mask-wearing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I recognize that several posts that I have shared, commented on, or reacted to in a personal capacity can be seen as inconsistent with my professional responsibilities,” Gauvin said in a statement. “My focus has always been to be fair and support law enforcement professionals. I certainly never intended for my social media account to ever bring my commitment to fair and professional law enforcement into question. I apologize for giving this impression and have removed my personal social media accounts.”

Gauvin was responding to a story published by Mainer, a Portland-based alternative online news organization previously known as The Bollard. According to the story, Gauvin, on his Facebook page, mocked the use of face masks to guard against spreading COVID-19 and shared a post that suggested masking was part of a bigger plot to control the public. In November, he posted that he had “zero confidence” in the results of the election that saw Joe Biden defeat President Trump. He also shared a post that referred to the election as “a psychological operation of epic proportions.”

Chief Russell Gauvin, photographed shortly after he was hired as Capitol Police chief in 2006. Photo from Capitol Police Maine Facebook page

Gauvin’s account was deleted shortly after the Mainer contacted him for comment, the website reported.

Gov. Janet Mills and Maine Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck issued a joint statement in which they deemed Gauvin’s apology “warranted.”

“He has assured us of his commitment to upholding his duties and responsibilities, regardless of any personal beliefs,” the statement read. “We are troubled and concerned by what we have read and have asked that the matter be reviewed through existing personnel process to determine whether any state policies were violated.”

Senate President Troy Jackson of Allagash and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford also issued a joint statement, saying they have “grave concerns” about Gauvin’s actions and are urging an investigation into the situation.

“It’s important that Maine people, lawmakers and state house employees have confidence in the ability of Capitol Police and Chief Gauvin to do their job and keep people safe,” their statement read. “This is especially true given the violence we saw unfold on the steps of our nation’s Capitol last week and the escalation of demonstrations throughout the country.”

“Should these professionals be unable to maintain public trust, ” the statement continued, “they should tender their resignations.”

Gauvin has been chief of the Capitol Police since 2006. The 13-officer force is responsible for security at Maine’s State House and other state office buildings.

State houses have increasingly been seen as targets by right-wing extremist groups, as well as those that support Trump and have embraced the false claim the November election was stolen. Some protests are planned at state houses across the country this weekend.

Under Mills’ tenure, there have been protests outside the State House against some of the restrictions she has adopted during the pandemic, including wearing masks in public settings.

“I want to assure Maine people of my continued commitment to upholding the laws of the state of Maine, the policies of Maine government, and to protecting the safety and welfare of all its people,” Gauvin said in his statement Friday. “As chief of Capitol Police, and as a longtime law enforcement officer, I take seriously my duty to uphold our laws, to do so in a fair and impartial way, and to protect the Capitol and our people.”


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