December 26, 2012

Fairfield police chief on paid leave for 'personal reasons'

Incident may be related to Monday police call on Palmer Road, where John Emery owns a home

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling
Staff Writer

FAIRFIELD -- Police Chief John Emery is on leave as of Wednesday morning for personal reasons, according to Town Manager Josh Reny.

click image to enlarge

John Emery in 2003.

File photo

Reny said that Emery requested and was granted paid family medical leave and Reny also placed him on administrative leave.

Town and law enforcement officials would not comment on whether Emery's leave is linked to a Monday incident on Palmer Road in Skowhegan involving more than a dozen police from four agencies. Property tax records show Emery owns a residence on the road.

On Monday at 2:49 p.m., 15 law enforcement officials from Fairfield Police Department, Skowhegan Police Department and the Somerset County Sheriff's Office investigated a call about a "mental subject" -- which is a police radio code phrase -- on Palmer Road.

Those responding included Skowhegan police Chief Michael Emmons, Somerset County Detective Lt. Carl Gottardi II and Somerset County Chief Deputy Dale Lancaster. An emergency medical services unit was also called to the scene.

Sgt. Aaron Hayden of Maine State Police Troop C said that the state police were called to the scene, but that the person was taken into custody before they arrived.

Reny said that he can "confirm Chief Emery is on administrative leave for personal reasons," Reny said. "Out of respect for his privacy, I cannot provide any further details at this time."

Reny said that a decision on Emery's employment status will be made in the near future. "He continues to be chief," Reny said.

Skowhegan police Chief Mike Emmons on Wednesday said he would not answer any questions about the incident. State police, Fairfield police and the Somerset County Sheriff's office referred questions to Skowhegan police.

Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said that he hadn't heard about it.

Reny said town administrators are still trying to work out who will be interim chief.

Fairfield police Sergeant Matthew Bard said in Emery's absence, leadership duties within the department will be shared by himself and Detective Sgt. Kingston Paul, who is the highest ranking officer.

"Between myself and the detective sergeant, we'll keep the ship running safe," Bard said.

Reny said Paul will be the primary point of contact between the town and the department while an interim plan is put into place.

A message left at Emery's home was not returned by press time.

Emery started work for the department as a patrol officer in 1986. In 1997, he was promoted from sergeant to captain. He was promoted to chief in 2000.

Staff writer Doug Harlow contributed to this report.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling -- 861-9287

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