AUGUSTA — Police Chief Jared Mills will be splitting his duties and expanding his role beyond the police department, with his appointment this week as Augusta’s assistant city manager.

And with Mills, 47, contemplating a life beyond law enforcement, and eligible to retire from that role as soon as August of 2023, the step could be a first career move toward becoming a city manager.

In the meantime, he and City Manager Susan Robertson expressed confidence that Mills can continue to fulfill his duties overseeing the city’s police department while also taking on additional responsibilities, such as helping draft the annual city budget, planning for capital improvements and their financing, and human resources duties. They both said the police department’s robust and experienced supervisory staff that work under Mills are a big part of what will allow him to take on a larger role.

Robertson said she’s “very confident” that Mills can take on the new role without it compromising oversight of the police department.

“He’s been in his role as police chief for a while, he’s got a great deputy chief, and lieutenant and sergeant staffing to support him” Robertson said. “I think he’ll do a great job. He’s got a lot of energy, he’ll have some good ideas that will be helpful. He’s just a natural leader.”

Mills, who started with Augusta police as a patrol officer in 1998, and became chief in 2018, is currently paid a yearly salary as police chief of $118,643. He will be paid an additional stipend to also serve as assistant city manager of $8,008, for a total annual salary of $126,651.

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Mills said if he didn’t have such a strong team of other command staff and frontline supervisors at the police department who have the department running very well, he probably wouldn’t take on the additional duties of assistant city manager.

Mills, who obtained a master of public administration degree in 2017 from the University of Maine, said  he’s been interested in a municipal management career since he was deputy chief and was encouraged by then Chief Robert Gregoire and then City Manager William Bridgeo to further his education. He said he’s eligible to retire, with a pension, from law enforcement in August of 2023.

“This is a great opportunity for me to be able to serve in this role and dive in and learn the position (of assistant city manager) for the next couple of years at least,” Mills said. “With this opportunity the city has given me, that’ll solidify what I’ve been working towards for life after I retire as a police chief, to work in that capacity. But I’m not putting the cart before the horse, I’m going to learn as much as I can so I can, maybe someday, step into a managerial role.”

Robertson, 62, hired as city manager last year after Bridgeo retired, initially didn’t apply for the manager’s job because she had plans to possibly retire in a few years.  But she agreed to take the job, for the next two years at least, after city leaders approached her with an offer and assured her they didn’t need a long-term commitment.

Robertson was first hired by the city in 2019 as human resources director and assistant city manager.

The previous longtime assistant city manager, Ralph St. Pierre, also served dual roles, with his other role as the city’s finance director. So Mills’ becoming assistant city manager while also retaining his other duties, as police chief, is not unprecedented in the city.

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He will split his time between two offices, his current one at the police station and his new office in the city’s human resources department.

Human resources duties in the city will be split between Mills, Robertson, and whoever is hired to fill a vacant human resources deputy director position. Robertson noted Mills would not be involved in human resources issues involving his supervision of the police department, such as when a grievance is filed in the department.

Robertson said she chose Mills for the job for a variety of reasons, including his thorough knowledge of the city where he lives and spent time as a patrol officer and as he worked his way up to police chief, his experience dealing with issues the city is confronting, his great teamwork ethic, his reliability and his good ideas.

Mills is currently president of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice form Saint Anselm College, and as an adjunct instructor taught a municipal administration class at the University of Maine at Augusta.

 

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