George Loder, a retired state trooper, says he faced professional retaliation and is owed financial damages after he reported alleged privacy violations at the Maine Intelligence and Analysis Center. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Multiple leaders of the Maine State Police again insisted Thursday that they did not retaliate against an employee who claims to have blown the whistle on illegal practices at a state police intelligence center.

In emphatic and repetitive testimony in federal court, current and former police leaders said they had already made the decision to remove Detective George Loder from a federal anti-terrorism task force before Loder first claimed that his unit at the Maine Intelligence and Analysis Center had broken federal privacy regulations.

Loder contends in a civil lawsuit filed in 2020 that he was pulled from the task force for raising concerns about what he thought were illegal practices at the MIAC and was later denied a chance to advance his career.

But over and over, state police leaders who took the stand Thursday said his retaliation claim was impossible for one simple reason: Loder had not voiced his concerns to his superiors before they decided he would be returned to his old police unit.

Attorneys for the state Department of Public Safety are expected to finish arguments Friday and hand the case to a 10-person jury that will determine if Loder deserves whistleblower protection. He is asking jurors to award him unspecified monetary damages for emotional distress.

Retired Col. John Cote and retired Maj. Christopher Grotton testified that they did not know Loder had made any allegations of impropriety before they decided in the spring of 2018 to cancel his temporary assignment to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force amid a staffing shortage.


Loder’s former supervisor, Lt. Michael Johnston, testified that Loder was set to replace a retiring detective who performed background checks and follow-up investigations on red-flagged gun purchases, job duties that were mandated by law.

Grotton testified that the agency at the time was moving away from loaning state personnel to federal agencies, in favor of a greater focus on the core mission of protecting Maine residents and investigating local crimes.

“It was one of those ‘nice to have,’ not one of those ‘need to have’ roles,” Grotton said. “We consider three years is a good balance of time for someone to get trained (at a task force assignment) and become effective, but at some point we like to integrate them back into their position.”

Lt. Col. Brian Scott testified that the agency’s stance on those jobs has not changed, and currently there is only one trooper assigned to a federal task force. And there are more than 50 open trooper positions, about 20 more than when Loder was called back from his post in 2018.

Loder did not take the decision well and became enraged, they said. The state police told the jury about three meetings they had with Loder in May 2018 where, they said, he could not control his temper, refused to listen to his superiors and became so uncooperative and upset that the officers feared for his well-being.

The final meeting, on May 29, occurred after Loder did not show up for work at the Augusta headquarters that day, and was called to report immediately.


Loder was disciplined for unprofessional behavior and issued a corrective memo in his file.

Loder, who took the witness stand Wednesday, said he began work as a trooper in 1994, was promoted to detective in 2012 and applied for a position at the MIAC in 2013. But the position was more clerical than he expected and he applied that same year to the FBI task force as a way to get back into the field.

Testifying Thursday, Johnston rebuffed Loder’s accusation that Johnston sent an inappropriate email about a tip involving a Middle Eastern-looking man who rented a car. The anonymous tipster did not allege any illegal activity, and Johnston said it appeared to be a case of racial bias and did not warrant follow-up by police.

In an email Johnston sent to the MIAC unit notifying them that the tip did not appear legitimate, Johnston wrote that it appeared the man had done nothing wrong and described the situation simply as someone who was “renting a car while brown.”

“It was my opinion that it was a stereotype of the worst kind,” Johnston said. “This was basically someone’s opinion that someone from a national origin, drove from A to B and didn’t seem right.”

Johnston said the other allegations about the MIAC keeping information improperly did not square with his understanding of the law, and that Maine had taken steps to ensure its data practices are in compliance with the rules, as he had been trained.

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