October 20, 2021

Camden hires attorney to look into police unrest

CAMDEN — Portland attorney Linda McGill said Monday she “will do what’s right, whatever it takes” to conduct an impartial investigation into the unrest within the Camden Police Department.

McGill was hired by the selectmen last week to investigate the problems that led 10 department employees on Oct. 5 to take a no confidence vote in Police Chief Terry Burgess and to demand his dismissal.

Since then, the selectmen have held two closed-door sessions with the employees and Burgess, but have taken no action concerning the chief’s employment. The selectmen met in executive session last week, voting unanimously to retain McGill.

The employees, seven patrol officers and three dispatchers, say Burgess’ management style has created poor morale in the department. Their no-confidence vote came one week after Burgess hired former Maine Drug Enforcement Agent Cameron Campbell as a sergeant, a move the employees protested as contrary to the town’s tradition of promoting from within. Three department employees refused to support the demand for the chief’s ouster. Burgess has been chief here since 1989.

McGill’s firm, Moon, Moss, McGill and Bachelder, specializes in employment and labor laws, principally as they pertain to municipalities. McGill also teaches employment law at the University of Southern Maine law school.

McGill said she has not yet received any information about the Camden situation, “so it’s too early to say what the issues are or how long this will take. It will be a neutral investigation, limited to the specific legal aspects.”

McGill worked for Camden once before, representing former Town Manager Paul Weston in 1988 when Burgess’ predecessor as chief, Eugene Ryan, appealed his firing by Weston. Selectmen denied the appeal.

Town Manager Roger Moody said Monday he hopes to get McGill started on the case “as soon as possible, this week or next. It will be a very limited assignment, not open-ended. We will let her do her work and then meet with her to hear her findings.”

Moody said the selectmen gave the assignment to McGill rather than to Town Attorney Terry Calderwood to preserve Calderwood’s role as the town’s legal adviser. “If the selectmen at some point need to sit as a hearing board, we need to maintain Terry’s ability to advise them. That may never happen, but if the board needs counsel, we want to have Terry available.”

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