Winslow Public Safety Director Leonard Macdaid, in the back wearing baseball cap, participates in a public safety drill at Winslow Elementary School with police and fire personnel on Aug. 18. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

WINSLOW — Several former municipal employees say the new public safety director has an abrasive and at times threatening management style that has contributed to a hostile work environment for the town’s workers.

Eight people formerly employed by the town or serving on its behalf told the Morning Sentinel about a culture of intimidation, saying that Leonard Macdaid’s leadership has contributed to distrust among town departments.

The claims against Macdaid come as concerns continue to linger over the consolidation of the police and fire agencies. It’s one of the most significant changes in municipal operations the town has seen in years and calls into question whether Macdaid’s leadership can navigate the uncharted territory to make it a successful move.

Town Manager Erica LaCroix calls the allegations “baseless” and says they’re part of a coordinated effort by “at least three current town employees, at least two former town employees and several members of the public that have dedicated themselves to removing Director Macdaid from his post.”

She said their efforts amount to “sour grapes” because they never wanted to see a Public Safety Department formed.

Macdaid first joined the town in 2020 as police chief before moving into the role of interim public safety director after the Town Council combined police and fire operations in a cost-saving move. The newly established Public Safety Department’s initial six-month trial run ended in June when the council opted to make the change permanent, despite concerns expressed by firefighters and some residents. Macdaid’s interim tag was removed earlier this month and he was appointed to oversee operations, receiving a salary of $88,200.


LaCroix said Macdaid was a police chief for more than two decades and was chosen to be the public safety director based on his “performance, his acumen and his reputation, as well as his understanding of the importance of working with the community.”

“We are confident we have the right person in that position,” she said in a statement to the Sentinel.


A complaint about Macdaid’s behavior was lodged months ago by Jim Flanders, Winslow’s former code enforcement officer who reported to LaCroix. Flanders joined the town earlier this year, serving for only seven weeks before abruptly leaving the position in May. Flanders said his departure largely was the result of a comment Macdaid made that Flanders took as a threat. The comment was made during a May 15 meeting the two of them had with LaCroix to clear the air following a tense exchange at the scene of an abandoned home.

“He told me it’s his department and he will run it anyway he sees fit,” Flanders said. “And me going to the town manager does not change anything because it’s his department.”

The two had argued outside the abandoned home in an apparent dispute over protocol. The home was seen as a fire hazard by Flanders, who wanted to call the Fire Department to clear the structure of possible squatters before boarding it up, while Macdaid asserted that he wasn’t properly notified of an action involving his personnel. Flanders claimed Macdaid was “agitated” at the scene and not acting professional toward him.


Macdaid’s comment is heard on an audio recording of the May meeting. Flanders recorded the exchange under Maine’s one-party consent law and provided a copy to the Sentinel.

Winslow Public Safety Director Leonard Macdaid speaks during a July 10 Town Council meeting. Screenshot from livestream

“Accusing someone of a hostile work environment is taking it to the next step. And I can tell you — in front of the town manager — you don’t want to accuse me of that unless you have a real hostile working environment,” Macdaid is heard saying during the May 15 meeting. “I am not going to take my job on the line from somebody who is brand new here, who doesn’t know me, who doesn’t know my reputation of 34 years, to accuse me of a hostile working environment.”

“I’m just saying, whatever else we determine, I would walk very cautiously next time you accuse me of that,” Macdaid continues.

The remark led Flanders to walk out of the meeting moments later.

He then met privately with LaCroix the following day, a meeting he also surreptitiously recorded, at which he announced he was resigning. Flanders said he had heard Macdaid was asking other town employees about him, which Flanders took as questioning his integrity and prompting him to leave the town job.

“I’m at the point where I’m going to probably do investigations all the way around,” LaCroix can be heard saying. “I’m going to spend a lot of money. I’m probably going to get strung-up at council but it’s become a situation that I cannot handle on my own without professional help.”


LaCroix is heard acknowledging Macdaid’s comment to Flanders at the May 15 meeting as threatening in nature, telling Flanders that after he walked out she told Macdaid that his remark could be construed as a threat.

“I told him, I said, ‘That was a threatening statement,'” LaCroix is heard saying, referring to Macdaid. “And he said, ‘I wasn’t threatening him. I’m just saying that you can’t threaten someone with a hostile work environment, wreck their job when you don’t have anything to base it on.’ And I said, ‘You know, if you had said that — that’s not a threatening statement. But to say, ‘You better be careful about accusing me of this in the future,’ that can be interpreted a million different ways. What are you going to do to me? Are you going to shoot me? Are you going to attack me? Are you going to beat me up? Are you going to ruin my career? What are you going to do? That’s a threat.”

Later in the conversation, LaCroix indicates she had heard prior complaints about Macdaid.

“Any allegations that have been raised about him in the past, no one’s been willing to put their name to it,” she told Flanders.

“I’m willing to,” Flanders offered.

LaCroix said in her statement later provided to the Sentinel that Flanders’ decision to record the meetings was unethical and “not operating in good faith.”


“This was a dispute between co-workers and it was fully investigated by a third-party investigator, and Director Macdaid was cleared of any wrongdoing,” LaCroix said. “Mr. Flanders is attempting to smear his name because (Flanders) left of his own accord and was denied unemployment compensation.”

When initially contacted by the Sentinel about the claims, Macdaid expressed a willingness to address the concerns. But he didn’t respond to subsequent phone calls and emails this past week seeking comment.


Flanders’ concerns about Macdaid were echoed by others who worked or served on behalf of the town: three of them former police officers, two former fire personnel, a former town councilor and a former employee in the town office.

They say Macdaid has used intimidating behavior before and that his actions have driven down morale among those working under him and led to high turnover. Six of them asked that their names be withheld out of concern their comments could jeopardize their current employment.

One former police officer of more than a decade claimed that Macdaid employs a combative and intimidating style, saying that of the 12 officers who were employed in Winslow before Macdaid became chief, 11 have since departed.


“The entire department has turned over since I’ve left,” the person said. “They’ve lost what would be a whole roster of people. They don’t feel supported.”

Because Macdaid was promoted to his new public safety director role despite previous complaints lodged against him, it leaves employees believing they have nowhere to go with their grievances, the person said.

Trish Banks, a town councilor for five years, sat on the committee that recommended hiring Macdaid as police chief in 2020. She also said many of the town’s firefighters and police officers don’t feel supported at work, noting that turnover has been particularly high among the town’s law enforcement.

“All four of the reserve (officers) had gone and then 11 full-time officers had left since Macdaid started,” Banks said. “Give me another town where that’s happened. It’s a big deal, right? We’re not talking like two or three. We’re talking 11.”

A former firefighter said that high turnover and low morale are not unique to the Police Department. The firefighter said that merging the two departments led to a demoralized firefighting staff. Turnover at the fire station jumped after Macdaid became director, the person said.

“Lenny Macdaid took over and it wasn’t a whole lot of time after that people started jumping ship,” the person said. “As morale starts diving down, nobody wants to do anything. If morale is down, no one wants to go and better themselves, no one wants to do anything for the department.”

LaCroix noted that police agencies nationwide are facing staffing shortages for a variety of reasons, including that fewer people are pursuing careers in law enforcement, and that Winslow has been no exception. But she said the department is now fully staffed.

The change in public safety operations “has been difficult, as it is an for any organization,” she said, adding that there are courses and seminars dedicated to the topic of change management. Town leaders have previously said there will be savings in excess of $100,000 when it comes to the administrative structure of a combined Public Safety Department, and LaCroix said residents ultimately will benefit.

“The proof is in the pudding. We are fully staffed and we continue to provide services at the same level of quality and response time as we did when we had two separate departments,” she said. “The difference is we are now able to provide those services at a savings to the taxpayers.”

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