BANGOR – The Bangor Police Department has launched an investigation into a former police officer suspected of committing two crimes involving property.
The officer, Josh Ouellette, had been put on paid administrative leave Sept. 18 and resigned from the Police Department two days later before an internal investigation was completed, Bangor Police Chief Don Winslow said Friday. Ouellette had been an officer with Bangor since August 2002.
“I am shocked and disappointed by these circumstances,” Winslow said.
The department learned of the possible criminal activity as part of a background check that Ouellette underwent when he applied for a job at another law enforcement agency, Winslow said. The information came out during an interview with the other agency, which Winslow declined to identify. Winslow also declined to say how he received the information.
As soon as the Bangor department learned of the information, Ouellette was placed on paid administrative leave, the police chief said.
No criminal charges have been filed in the case, which remains under investigation. The criminal investigation could be completed next week, the police chief said.The hiring process for law enforcement officers includes an extensive background check that includes criminal history checks, interviews and polygraph tests.
The alleged activity was described as two misdemeanor property crimes that occurred more than a year ago. Winslow said it wasn’t clear whether the alleged crimes occurred while Ouellette was on duty or off. Still he said he is taking a hard line on the matter.
“But make no mistake about it, criminal behavior by a police officer will not be tolerated in this agency,” Winslow said.
Class E property crimes generally include a number of theft charges as well as receiving stolen property, Penobscot County Deputy District Attorney Michael Roberts said Friday. Roberts said he had been apprised of the case but didn’t know specific details.
The charges each carry a maximum sentence of six months in jail, a $500 fine or both, Roberts said.
Efforts to reach Ouellette on Friday for comment were unsuccessful.
A 2002 graduate of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, Ouellette could lose his certification to perform law enforcement in Maine if convicted.
Winslow stressed that his department is taking the case seriously and acknowledged that it is the most troubling situation in the eight years he has been police chief.
“This is the most concerning thing that has happened on my watch” he said.
The Police Department has a complement of 76 sworn officers, but Ouellette’s resignation leaves four positions open.
Winslow also said that the alleged crimes “appear to be an isolated incident.”
The police chief acknowledged that as part of the investigation, other police officers will be interviewed.
Asked whether other officers may be implicated in the matter or knew about the situation, Winslow responded: “I’m not going to tolerate criminal behavior on my Police Department.”