FAIRFIELD — The town has hired a 25-year veteran of the Livermore Falls police department as its new police chief, officials announced Friday.

Thomas Gould, 47, who grew up in Jay, will take command beginning July 15.

Gould said that, after 14 years as a lieutenant in Livermore Falls, it was time for him to head a department.

Town Manager Josh Reny said Gould displayed strengths in each category that the committee was interested in, including experience in training officers, writing grants and overseeing a budget.

Reny said the search committee also liked the fact Gould demonstrated loyalty to the Livermore Falls community over such a long period of time, where, Reny said, Gould has maintained strong ties with the people in his department.

“He’s a very community-minded individual,” Reny said. “Just talking to him, you can tell he’s a good, honest, nice person.”

Gould said he plans to spend a lot of time on the road with officers as they respond to complaints, not to second-guess their actions, but to assist them.

“I’m kind of a hands-on supervisor,” he said.

Gould was one of 40 candidates for the position, and eight who were interviewed during a process that began March 1, when former police Chief John Emery resigned after an extended leave of absence.

Emery’s absence began Dec. 26, two days after police responded to a call about someone having a mental health issue on Skowhegan’s Palmer Road, where Emery lives. Skowhegan police would not confirm whether Emery was involved in that call.

When Emery resigned, the town contracted with Waterville to provide administrative services for the department for $4,000 per month.

Reny said the contract with Waterville will run until Gould’s first day.

After a six-month probationary period, during which he will make $56,000 annually, Gould will make an annual salary of $58,000, very close to the $58,457 that Emery was making when he left.

Gould said his house is for sale and will seek a short-term apartment rental while he searches for a permanent home in the town.

Audit, future challenges

Gould said he understands both sides of a debate over the town’s recent decision to pay about $6,000 to the Maine Chiefs of Police Association for a top-to-bottom review of the department that includes recommendations on improvements.

The audit from the chiefs was approved by members of the town council, who said it would provide a useful tool for a new department head in looking toward the future.

“I understand the concerns over the money,” Gould said. “It is quite a bit of money, and it’s a bad year for money for every small-town police department.”

But Gould also said he would benefit from the recommendations in the report, and that it will allow him to get a faster start in his new position.

“It’s relaxing me a little bit walking in, knowing that somebody has taken a good look at everything in the department,” he said.

Reny said that the auditing team expects to produce the report in mid-July, about the same time Gould will begin.

Gould said that the biggest challenge facing the Fairfield Police Department during the next two years is the same as that of every police department in the state — a tight budget, made tighter under a new state budget that includes steep cuts to municipal revenue sharing for all towns.

“Over the past 25 to 30 years, there’s never been a year where there’s plenty of money available. Never,” he said. “But the next couple of years, it’s going to be particularly tight.”

Gould said his focus over the two-year period will be on fiscal discipline within the department.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287
[email protected]

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