FRYEBURG, Maine — The police chief who was hired in December was not actually a certified officer, it was revealed Wednesday.
Aaron Mick of Wilton, Maine, replaced Joshua Potvin, who resigned at the end of July. Mick, who was chief in Dixfield, Maine, started Dec. 4. Potvin was placed on paid administrative leave May 18. The reasons are unclear but reportedly started with a complaint by Teamsters Local 340.
On Nov. 3, residents in Dixfield — which is about 35 miles northwest of Lewiston — voted to disband their police force and go with sheriff coverage in a cost-cutting move, according to WGME CBS 13. Mick had resigned from the department over the summer after staying about a year. A report from the Rumford Falls Times said that Mick resigned because he had difficulty recruiting officers.
On Wednesday, a Facebook page called "Fryeburg water" headed by Bill Harriman broke the news about Mick's lack of certification.
Harriman cited Maine Criminal Justice Academy trustees' meeting minutes from just about a year ago on Jan. 10, 2020.
"Mick did NOT complete his training," said Harriman. "He quit his job in Dixfield before the deadline. You can find that out by calling the Maine Police Academy and asking about it."
Mick, reached by the Sun Wednesday, said, "I don't have a comment on it."
As for the job generally, he said the Fryeburg people have been "fantastic" and that he's been "enjoying" his new post.
The minutes of the academy's board meeting are posted online. They show that with regard to Mick, the 16 board members voted unanimously a year ago to "approve the Basic Law Enforcement Program Waiver, pending successful completion of the Maine Crash Training and Law Enforcement Officer's Certification Examination by Aug. 19, 2020."
Crash training deals with how to cover motor vehicle accidents, and the certification is a written test.
Maine Criminal Justice Academy Director Rick Desjardins said that the academy holds licensure authority for police and corrections officers.
The Sun asked Desjardins what the lack of certification means.
"It is a problem if he’s enforcing Maine law," said Desjardins. "However, he can be hired by the town as the chief or any position but wouldn’t have law enforcement authority in Maine unless he is certified by the Academy.
"I have been in contact with Chief Mick, and currently he is 'inactive' from the perspective of being a law enforcement officer in Maine. Fryeburg hired him as their chief, but we have yet to receive an employment notice for the certification."
Desjardins confirmed that Mick didn't complete the certification process in Dixfield.
"He was in a waiver process when he was hired in the town of Dixfield, but the agency closed and he never completed his waiver process for a Maine law enforcement certification," said Desjardins.
"I believe he will be pursuing a waiver under the town of Fryeburg’s employment status, but again, we have yet to receive a formal request for a waiver."
Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Fryeburg selectmen's chair Tom Klinepeter said he was unaware of the situation with Mick and was hearing about this for the first time from the Sun.
"Sorry I can't say anything," said Klinepeter. "I know nothing."
Town Manager Katie Haley could not be reached.
Haley had introduced Mick to selectmen at their Zoom meeting in November.
To select Mick, the town worked with the Maine Chiefs of Police Association Executive Director Ed Tolan. Helping sort the candidates and interview them were Farmington Police Chief Jack Peck Jr., Cape Elizabeth Police Chief Paul Fenton and Auburn Police Chief Jason Moen.
Meanwhile, Teamsters Local 340 Agent Traci St. Clair told the Sun Wednesday that union members are "very disappointed in the town of Fryeburg" but she added that when she met Mick he came across a "very pleasant person" and "very down to Earth" and "very reasonable."
"In the state of Maine, you have to carry certification to be a law enforcement officer and the town of Fryeburg has erred in making sure that was in place," said St. Clair.
St. Clair said the exam is in lieu of going to the police academy that a prospective officer might take if they have already been certified in another state and want to work in Maine.
The Sun asked St. Clair what the union might do about the situation with Mick.
"I can't say we are not contemplating a no confidence vote with the chief and the town manager," said St. Clair. "I'm in my 15th year on this job, and I can tell you without fail I have never taken a no confidence vote on any chief."
The original version of this story should not have identified Ed Tolan as Falmouth’s Police chief.