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Lawmakers want Capitol Police chief to be placed on leave

January 19, 2021 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — More than 70 Democratic lawmakers are calling on Capitol Police Chief Russell Gauvin to be placed on administrative leave while his social media posts are being investigated.

House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, and Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, signed the letter that accused Capitol Police Chief Russell Gauvin of expressing support for “conspiracy theories that led to the violent insurrection against the government at the U.S. Capitol.” They asked the state’s public safety commissioner to put him on leave.

Gauvin issued an apology Friday in which he acknowledged social media posts “can be seen as inconsistent with my professional responsibilities.” His social media posts derided mask mandates, questioned the presidential election results and supported a police officer who called for violence against Black Lives Matter protesters.

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“At this historic juncture in which there are viable, coordinated threats against lawmakers, we find Chief Gauvin’s comments reprehensible, and his apology utterly insufficient,” the lawmakers wrote.

Neither Gauvin nor Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck immediately responded to a request for comment.

The 13-officer Capitol Police force is responsible for security at Maine’s Statehouse and other state office buildings. Gauvin has been chief since 2006.