The longtime South Berwick police chief who was placed on administrative leave in November following public disclosure of his confrontation with a neighboring police department has resigned, the town said Thursday.

Dana Lajoie was placed on paid leave late last year after the Press Herald published a story that included video of Lajoie berating and insulting police from neighboring Berwick, where he lives. On the video recorded by Berwick police, Lajoie accused Berwick officers of trespassing on his private drive. He also questioned the integrity of the Berwick police department and said Berwick officers lie, a serious accusation for one officer to make against another.

Dana Lajoie in 1989, early in his long tenure as South Berwick police chief. Portland Press Herald photo

After the story ran Nov. 21, South Berwick town officials placed Lajoie on leave and hired the Drummond Woodsum law firm to conduct an independent investigation into whether he violated town policies. His resignation was finalized Feb. 17, before the investigation concluded or he was officially disciplined. Lajoie’s annual salary was $95,888, the town said.

In exchange for Lajoie’s resignation, the town paid out more than $65,000, including $28,677.29 in accrued vacation and sick time, $21,332.71 in direct compensation, $5,488.08 for health coverage and $10,000 to Clifford and Clifford, a Kennebunk-based law firm, although it was unclear if the firm represented Lajoie in the negotiated settlement.

Lajoie and the town agreed to keep the agreement confidential and not to disparage or defame each other. Copies of the separation agreement and resignation were provided to the Press Herald in response to a Freedom of Access Act request.

Town Manager Tim Pellerin did not respond to questions about whether the town’s insurer would reimburse the town for the payments or taxpayers would shoulder the costs. Pellerin also did not explain the payment to the outside law firm.


Lajoie’s resignation ends a more than 40-year career at South Berwick. He was first hired as a patrolman in 1979, assumed the role of interim chief in the mid-80s and led the department until last year.

After the confrontation outside Lajoie’s home last July, Berwick police distanced themselves from their South Berwick colleagues. The Berwick officer’s union called for Berwick to cancel its mutual aid agreement with South Berwick, but that didn’t happen.

Video of the encounter was captured on Berwick police cruiser cameras along Fairway Road, a private road where Lajoie and his relatives live, and provided to the newspaper in response to a public record request. Lajoie watched that night as a Berwick police cruiser pulled down the dead-end road, turned around and drove away.

Lajoie called the regional dispatch in Sanford and demanded that the officers return. When they arrived, Lajoie and his son, Jamie Lajoie, a former police officer, insisted that the officers had trespassed when they turned down the private street.

The Berwick officer who had been driving the cruiser told the Lajoies that he had come down the private road while training a new recruit on the geography of the town. The Lajoies soon demanded to speak to a supervisor, who arrived a few minutes later.

The Lajoies’ anger with Berwick police appears to go back years, heightened by a prior incident at Lajoie’s son’s nearby home during which police were called to a report of a domestic disturbance.

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