WINSLOW — After months of contentious discussion, municipal officials are promoting Leonard Macdaid to oversee the town’s new Public Safety Department despite ongoing criticism from some residents and staff of his leadership style.

Leonard Macdaid is seen in his office at the Police Department at the Winslow Town Office in Winslow in November 2020. Macdaid was recently selected as the town’s director of public safety, overseeing both the police and fire-rescue operations. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

Macdaid started his new role as public safety director last Friday after a unanimous vote from an independent hiring committee, Winslow Town Manager Erica LaCroix said in a Facebook post.

Macdaid, who will be paid an annual salary of about $88,200, has been acting as interim director of the department since its creation in January, and he has served as the town’s chief of police since 2020.

The committee’s vote and announcement come amid concerns from Winslow residents regarding the hiring committee’s independence and doubts from Winslow firefighters about both Macdaid’s leadership and the future of the consolidated department under his watch.

LaCroix said in an interview Tuesday that the town was expecting some backlash over both the merger and Macdaid’s promotion, but that she trusts director Macdaid to ease the unrest within the department. The police force has 11 staff members and the fire department has about a dozen, according to the town website.

“If a fire chief takes over, police is uncomfortable. If a police chief takes over, fire is uncomfortable,” LaCroix said. “There’s a definite mentality that has to build into whoever takes the job as far as how they are going to manage that type of angst and discomfort among staff.”


That angst has played out publicly on social media in recent days. LaCroix’s Facebook post last week announcing Macdaid’s promotion was with comments in opposition to the move and the hiring process. That prompted LaCroix to limit comments on the post because of the “negativity” of some posters.

“I will not allow a member of my staff to be trashed on town-managed social media,” LaCroix wrote. “Especially not one of outstanding moral character who has had an exemplary career spanning three decades and gives so much to the taxpayers of this Town. … Save your comments for a Council Meeting or file a formal complaint to have the AG’s office investigate the hiring process. But the negativity will not be allowed here.”

Tensions flared at a public hearing in May when Macdaid was asked if he would relinquish his duties as a police officer to focus more on being an administrator for both departments. Macdaid responded by saying he would “absolutely” continue wearing a police uniform and carrying a service weapon in his new role.

“When I got hired for this job, I told them in my job interview, ‘If you think I’m going to be a chief that’s going to wear a white shirt and sit in the office, you’re hiring the wrong person,'” MacDaid said in the meeting. “I can tell you if I get this position, I will wear a gun.”

Macdaid could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday.

Winslow resident Fran Hudson, who has been a vocal critic of Macdaid’s leadership style, said in an interview Monday that the public safety director has seemingly refused to step into a fully administrative role. Hudson said that approach has alienated some residents and firefighters.


“People don’t like his leadership role. That’s why everybody’s upset,” Hudson said. “I don’t think he can remove his police chief hat and be an administrator.”

The Winslow Town Council still needs to confirm Macdaid’s contract, which it is scheduled to do at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 14.

Winslow officials created the Public Safety Department at the start of this year as part of an ongoing effort to consolidate the town fire and police departments’ respective administrative duties, physical offices and training facilities. Town officials say the change, which underwent a six-month trial, was made in order to save money and establish better coordination between the two departments.

But many of the town’s firefighters have come out in opposition to the merger. As the Public Safety Department’s trial period was nearing its end, 11 of Winslow’s 12 firefighters came forward at a public hearing to voice their discontent with the merger.

At a public hearing in May, Winslow fire department Lt. Shawn Stetson said that the merger had left the town’s firefighters feeling demoralized and micromanaged. He added that while Macdaid had promised monthly meetings between police and fire staff, only one meeting was held during the department’s six-month trial period.

“Morale in the firehouse has dropped significantly from the deputy chief position down to the lowest member,” Stetson said at the meeting. “We feel we have lost our identity and ability to have local control over our minor budget and training requests.”


Contacted for a response to Macdaid’s hiring, Stetson declined to comment and said the union representing the firefighters did not have a comment either.

Macdaid’s hiring committee was made up of five people, each of which was selected by LaCroix. The committee was comprised of three Winslow residents, including Town Council Chairman Peter Drapeau, Delta Ambulance Director Timothy Beals, and LaCroix herself, along with Augusta Police Chief and Assistant City Manager Jared Mills, and Bucksport Town Manager Susan Lessard.

LaCroix said in a Facebook comment that no one on the hiring committee knew Macdaid personally, though some members had interacted with him professionally.

She said the committee considered Macdaid and one other unidentified candidate, each of whom were interviewed for about two hours and answered 20 questions.

“After interviewing both candidates the committee scored them independently, and afterward had a discussion to determine who the top candidate was,” LaCroix wrote. “Prior to giving my own feedback I let our independent committee members and Councilor Drapeau provide their opinions and indicate their choice. I went last. The committee was unanimous in its decision and the independent scoring bears this out.”

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