Former police chief decertified after making false report to skip meeting

The then-chief texted one of his officers asking her to call him out of a town meeting, according to reports

Callie Ferguson
Bangor Daily News, Maine

FRYEBURG, Maine — Maine's law enforcement oversight board revoked the license of the former Fryeburg police chief after finding that he created a false police report to justify abruptly leaving a public meeting last year.

The Maine Criminal Justice Academy's board of trustees, which certifies and decertifies Maine police and corrections officers, voted in February to revoke Joshua Potvin's license after finding that he falsified a public record. The details of the academy's investigation became public this month when Potvin withdrew his request for an appeal.

The decision sheds new light on the circumstances surrounding Potvin's resignation last summer and bars him from working in Maine law enforcement again.

On February 27, 2020, Potvin attended a public meeting of the Fryeburg Board of Selectmen. Just before the public comment portion of the meeting, the former chief texted one of his officers asking her to call him out of the meeting, according to the academy's written decision.

After taking the call and leaving the meeting abruptly, Potvin drove his cruiser to the Fryeburg Fairgrounds where he met the officer who called him.

It was then he spotted a man that he recognized as a fairground employee getting into his vehicle. To justify his trip from the meeting to the fairground, Potvin used the computer inside his cruiser to create a fake entry in the department's dispatch system, saying that he drove there in response to a report of a suspicious person at the fairground, according to the academy.

Potvin entered the fairground employee's license plate number into the dispatch entry and wrote, "Fair employee — all set."

Potvin resigned in July following two months on administrative leave after the Teamsters Union Local 340 lodged a complaint against him on behalf of four of his subordinate officers in March 2020. He had been chief of the New Hampshire-border town since 2014.

The town investigated the complaint, but didn't make public its findings since Potvin was not disciplined. But the union representing the officers also sent the complaint to outside agencies for investigation, including the academy.

The academy found that Potvin's actions constituted the misdemeanor crime of tampering with a public record. To revoke his certification, the academy needed to prove his actions by a preponderance of evidence, or that they were more likely than not to have happened. A prosecutor, by comparison, would need to prove the allegations by the higher standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.

Potvin initially asked for a hearing to appeal the decision to "clear his name," but he withdrew the request in late April because he could no longer afford to keep litigating the matter, according to a letter his attorney, Jonathan Goodman, sent the academy.

The academy's decision marks the second time that Maine law enforcement officials have deemed Potvin somehow unfit for police duties.

The Bangor Daily News reported on his resignation in July, revealing that Potvin had previously lied to state investigators in 2018. As a result, the local district attorney determined that he could not serve as a credible witness in court. Potvin remained chief for another two years.

[NEXT: How internal procedural justice impacts external behaviors]

Potvin did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

(c)2021 the Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Recommended for you

Copyright © 2021 Police1. All rights reserved.