GOULDSBORO – The Board of Selectmen, reversing a decision last month to fire the town’s police chief, decided Thursday to give Guy Wycoff his job back.
Wycoff was fired as police chief two weeks ago when the board voted 3-2 to support the decision of former Town Manager Linda Pagels to terminate his employment. At a contentious July 18 hearing, opened to the public at Wycoff’s request, Pagels’ attorney argued the chief should be fired because Wycoff had falsified his time reports in June. Wycoff’s attorney, Mark McDonough of Bangor, argued the chief had not falsified any records and had documentation proving he worked when he said he did.
At Thursday night’s selectmen’s meeting, Pagels’ attorney, Wayne Foote of Bangor, acknowledged that Wycoff had not falsified his time records.
“The board found out that hadn’t occurred,” Foote said.
He said he had worked out a proposed settlement with McDonough that would allow Wycoff to retain his position as long as the chief successfully passes a three-month probationary period. The probation term would serve as a trial period for making sure Wycoff communicates better with other town officials.
“It gives the town some flexibility in ensuring that improvement occurs,” Foote said. Pagels, who is now the Calais city manager, also was at Thursday’s meeting but did not address the board. She and Wycoff shook hands after the hearing.
The board voted to reconsider its July 18 vote and unanimously agreed to offer Wycoff the settlement. Wycoff is scheduled to meet with selectmen Saturday morning to discuss the communication issues and is expected to be back at work Monday morning.
After the board voted to accept the settlement, Wycoff and McDonough promised in writing that they would not appeal the board’s actions to Hancock County Superior Court. Also approved at the meeting was a finding of fact drafted by the board listing their concerns about Wycoff’s performance as police chief.
Gouldsboro town attorney James Patterson said after the meeting that the board’s vote is a matter of public record. The documents concerning the settlement and the board’s finding of fact are considered private personnel information and are not available for public inspection, he said.
McDonough said after the hearing that Wycoff is happy to have his job back.
“We’re satisfied with the result,” McDonough said. “The town made the right decision to reconsider [Wycoff’s firing].”
Wycoff’s return to work Monday should help with staffing issues created by the departure of two other Gouldsboro police officers.
Sgt. Charles Bagley resigned in protest of Wycoff’s firing, and Thursday the board voted 3-2 to accept the resignation with regret. James Phinney and Susan Bagley, the same selectmen who opposed Wycoff’s firing, voted against accepting Bagley’s resignation. Susan Bagley is married to Charles Bagley.
Also accepted with regret Thursday, by a 5-0 vote, was the resignation of police Officer Chris Smith, who was the officer in charge while Wycoff was suspended.
Smith said in his resignation letter, read aloud at the meeting by board Chairman Dana Rice, that he had accepted a position with the Ellsworth Police Department.
Wycoff, who has not worked since June 24, said after the meeting that he is eager to resume his duties as chief.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to work and to rebuilding the department,” he said.
Rice said after the meeting that he hopes the controversy surrounding Wycoff’s employment is over.
“Tomorrow’s a new day,” Rice said. “We start over and go from there.”
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