Nominee For Head Of State Public Safety Department Says He Would Make Opioid Epidemic A Top Priority

Dec 28, 2018

Governor-elect Janet Mills has chosen a former Portland Police chief to head the Maine Department of Public Safety.

If confirmed, Michael Sauschuck would oversee Consolidated Emergency Communications, the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, Drug Enforcement, Emergency Medical Services, the Fire Marshal's Office, Gambling Control, Highway Safety, and the Maine State Police.

Sauchuck served as Portland Police chief for six years and currently works as an assistant city manager. Mills says he's well-respected for his reputation and experience.

"He provides a progressive approach to law enforcement which includes community policing, which includes progressive approaches to the opiate epidemic that we are determined to tackle on day one, and it includes progressive approaches to the issues of mental health, homelessness and police responses to mental health crises," Mills says.

Mills and Sauchuck recently worked together on Maine's Opiate Collaborative, a multifaceted approach to address the drug epidemic in the state.

Sauschuck says he'll be incorporating some of the recommendations in his new role.

"I'm incredibly proud of a lot of the work that law enforcement has done around this issue, but we've got a long way to go and people continue to die in our state and that's absolutely unacceptable,” he says. “I know that's a priority of the Governor-elect, and it's certainly a priority of mine, and I'm pretty excited to have that opportunity to step up and take some of those next steps statewide."

Mills also nominated Maine State Prison Warden Randall Liberty to serve as the commissioner of the Department of Corrections. Both nominations will need to be confirmed by the Legislature.

Mills officially takes office next Wednesday.