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Two Rockland officers fired after animal abuse probe

By Stephen Betts | Sep 29, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts

Rockland — Two Rockland police officers were fired following an internal investigation into a report of animal cruelty.

Rockland Police Chief Christopher Young confirmed that two officers were notified of their terminations Sept. 22. He did not identify the two officers, nor did he detail the allegations against them, other than it was misconduct.

A source, however, said the misconduct involved the abuse of an animal.

The chief said he was made aware Aug. 28 of an allegation against the officers. Within 24 hours, the two were placed on administrative leave.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office conducted the internal investigation. The chief then issued his termination notices.

The Maine Warden Service conducted the criminal investigation.

No criminal charges have been filed as of Sept. 29.

District Attorney Natasha Irving would not comment on details of the allegation, but said she appointed Assistant District Attorney Michael Dumas from Sagadahoc County to review the case to determine if criminal charges will be filed.

While Young and Irving did not identify the two, a source confirmed that Officers Addison Cox and Mike Rolerson were the two fired officers.

Officer Cox was with the Rockland department since 2016. He served earlier in the Marines in Romania and Afghanistan. In 2017, he was one of three Rockland officers who received the department’s “Meritorious Service Award" for thwarting a kidnapping in September 2016.

In 2018, he received the “Life Saving Award” from the Maine Chiefs of Police Association for his actions in January 2018, in saving a man who had suffered a severe cut following an assault.

In 2017, he was hailed as the hero of wild animals. The officer helped return a baby raccoon to the woods, and helped a skunk that had gotten its head stuck in a peanut butter jar.

Officer Michael Rolerson has been with the Rockland department since 2018. he previously was enlisted in the Marines, serving in the Pacific and deploying to the Helmand province in Afghanistan.

A Facebook message was sent to Rolerson Tuesday morning. Cox could not be reached for comment.

Officers who are terminated have the right to appeal through a union grievance process.

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Comments (5)
Posted by: Carole Martin | Sep 30, 2020 07:27

Thanks, Steve. I trust you on this.

With or without criminal charges, a super-sad element of it is that any investigations leading to an arrest that these two participated in may lose credibility and be harder to have a fair trial because of this. Their judgment and any of their actions are now called into question.



Posted by: Stephen Betts | Sep 30, 2020 06:20

Carole, if criminal charges are filed, all the information will come out. Even if not, more information will be published by the newspaper. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the full story confirmed sufficiently to put it into print.



Posted by: Carole Martin | Sep 30, 2020 06:03

In this case, the public's right to know outweighs the officers' rights to privacy on matters related to their employment. Time for a Freedom of Information Act filing that covers all of the officers involved - not just the two who were terminated - and includes the procedural protocol for how the Lincoln County Sheriff's office was chosen as the investigative unit.

For now, suffice it to say there is a lot here. Facts, please - all of them. Enough of us know what's going on that if there isn't responsible, transparent sharing of it, the legal system will only look worse in the end because it will then also reveal the tactics used to shield full disclosure. I won't waste time speculating as to what the motivation for that might be.



Posted by: T A Schwab | Sep 30, 2020 00:08

I for one would like to know what happened here. Animal abuse by our own Rockland PD? We need the full story. NOW.



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Sep 29, 2020 16:06

Glad to see this was dealt with quickly and cleanly.  This is the type of action that our country needs to see.  Saddened that it came to this yet it sends a positive message to our citizens.



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