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Auburn police: Road department not cooperating in probe

AUBURN — During Tuesday night’s police commissioners meeting, Police Chief Edward Picard complained that police have received limited cooperation from the town’s road department while investigating reports of illegal dumping at the town’s closed landfill.

Police Chief Edward Picard said interview requests have been rebuffed and the lock to the gate at the old landfill had been changed, preventing officers from conducting standard patrols of the area.

“We have received limited cooperation from the people involved, and we have been locked out of an area we regularly patrol. They say they want us to investigate but won’t be part of the investigation. It’s ludicrous,” Picard said.

The town’s road department is headed by Mike Dross, who along with town subcontractor JH Rolfe stores equipment at the old landfill.

In a letter sent to the town in August demanding that the lock be removed, Picard wrote “refusing to cooperate with an ongoing investigator by certain town officials is treading on dangerous grounds and may require the Attorney General’s Division of Public Integrity to get involved.”

The Board of Commissioners also discussed Dross’s allegation that he made during August’s police commissioner’s meeting that officer Bill Barry was unprofessional during an interview about the dumping. After looking into the matter, David Dion, chairman of the police commissioners, said the allegation was without merit.

“I spoke to three people who were present during the interview, and Officer Barry was just doing his job,” Dion said.

According to letters written by the three witnesses to the interview, Barry asked Dross repeatedly who he thought was responsible for the alleged dumping at the site.Dion said that Dross might have made the complaint because Barry’s questions “might have struck a nerve.”

Barry also told the commissioners that he was informed by the DES on Tuesday that materials dug up during a test dig at the site confirmed that the material was not part of the original dump.

“And according to the tip we got about the dumping, the real stuff is about 16 feet down, not the 6 feet that was dug up during the test dig,” Barry said.

Commissioners also discussed a letter sent to them by Linda Dross, who is Mike Dross’s wife, complaining that outside agencies have been brought in to investigate claims against her husband.

In her letter, she writes, “Allegations received regarding the Road Agent, required outside agencies to become involved and the findings were found unfounded.”

After Dion read that passage out loud during the police commissioner’s meeting, Picard responded: “Where is she getting that the complaint was unfounded? This is still an ongoing investigation. It’s not unfounded.”

Dion added that while the DES and the town’s consulting firm, Stantec, were involved in looking into the illegal dumping at the old dump, they were either brought in under the Board of Selectmen’s suggestion or with their knowledge, not by the police.

Officer Barry said he only consulted with the DES after he was given the go-ahead by a member of the Planning Board after he had consulted with the Board of Selectmen.

Picard said Barry followed the proper protocol.

Dion added that he would have preferred that Mike and Linda Dross had attended Tuesday’s meeting, saying that while it wouldn’t have changed his decision on Dross’s complaint or opinion of the letter from Dross’s wife, it could have added much needed perspective on the situation.

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