The Capitol Police in Augusta have hired a new chief, who will take command six months after the prior chief stepped down amid an investigation into social media posts questioning the validity of the 2020 presidential election and the science behind COVID-19 mask mandates.

Matthew Clancy Photo courtesy of Maine Capitol Police

Matthew Clancy, a 35-year police veteran with nearly two decades of experience leading police departments in Massachusetts, accepted the role with the Bureau of Capitol Police this week, the Department of Public Safety said Friday.

Clancy replaces Russell Gauvin, who was put on leave in January after he made posts to social media that questioned the results of the 2020 presidential election and opposed COVID-19 mask mandates. The posts led to an outcry and calls for his termination.

Gauvin went on leave while the department of public safety investigated. Gauvin retired in April after reaching an agreement with his employer in which he received $67,642.12 in severance pay and $19,702.80 for accrued unused leave.

The controversial posts were first reported by Mainer, a Portland-based alternative monthly print and online news organization previously known as The Bollard.

In one post, Gauvin mocked the use of face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and shared a post that suggested masking is part of a bigger plot to control the public.

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

In others, Gauvin said he had “zero confidence” in the results of the November election in which President Biden defeated Donald Trump, and shared a post that referred to the election as “a psychological operation of epic proportions.”

He apologized in mid-January, saying in a prepared statement, “I certainly never intended for my social media account to ever bring my commitment to fair and professional law enforcement into question.”

Peer reviewed, scientific studies show that masks are among the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Legal challenges to the presidential election results have been nearly universally rejected by federal courts, and there have been no substantiated claims of fraud or abuse that affected the outcome.

Clancy is now the interim police chief in Plympton, Massachusetts, where he previously served more than eight years as permanent chief.

Before his interim position in Plympton, Clancy served as the chief of the Duxbury Police Department in Massachusetts. He also has taught as an adjunct professor at Bridgewater State University and served for more than a decade on the board of directors of the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission, according to the Maine Department of Public Safety.

“I am dedicated to the advancement of professional and accountable policing,” Clancy said in a prepared statement. “Accountability, transparency, organizational integrity and community engagement are at the core of my policing philosophy. I look forward to this new challenge and working for and with the citizens of Maine.”

Clancy starts in the new post Oct. 18. Lt. Robert Elliott has been serving as interim chief since Gauvin was placed on leave.

The Capitol Police department has about 13 officers and protects the State House building and related state-owned office buildings.

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