During a recent Select Board meeting, retired Mansfield Police Sgt. Robert Martin stood at the podium and spoke up about an ongoing town mystery: What does the future hold for Chief Ron Sellon?
The top cop has been off the job with pay for nearly two years after town leaders launched a private investigation into workplace misconduct allegations.
Martin criticized how the situation has been handled and questioned why it is still dragging on 22 months later.
"If you can't take an ass-chewing — excuse my vernacular — you're in the wrong profession," Martin said, referencing a quote said to him by a superior when he was beginning his law enforcement career.
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Martin went on to says, "The townspeople and town employees may be wondering, 'If due process can be denied to a police chief, what are they going to do to me?'"
As NBC10 Boston first reported last year, town leaders quietly placed Sellon on paid administrative leave in October 2021, but did not disclose that development to taxpayers.
Eventually, missing fliers started popping up around Mansfield when Sellon was nowhere to be found at the public safety headquarters.
The NBC10 Boston Investigators learned the town hired a private investigator to probe allegations of harassing, bullying and unbecoming conduct during his tenure as police chief.
Last summer, Sellon broke his silence about the allegations during an extensive interview with the NBC10 Boston Investigators.
"I have done my very level best to resolve this situation and to bring it to an amicable close. I'm still sitting here waiting," Sellon told us.
The police chief said the allegations against him were not "flattering," but did not rise to the level of misconduct.
"I am absolutely fit to serve as the police chief," Sellon responded.
However, town leaders saw it differently.
The private investigation sustained a number of allegations against Sellon, including profanity-laced outbursts; angry and threatening messages to subordinates; abusive and disrespectful behavior; and damaging his town cellphone after throwing it in his office.
The town also released a doorbell video that captured Sellon screaming things like "[expletive] Mansfield" and "I'm going to haunt them and their [expletive] children" while banging on things outside his home.
Town leaders concluded Sellon was not fit to serve as the police chief. In response, Sellon claimed the private investigation was retaliation because he did not make an OUI "go away" for Town Manager Kevin Dumas.
Dumas denied that accusation and called it an attempt by Sellon to "distract attention from his egregious misconduct."
Following those public fireworks, nothing has changed nine months later.
Financial records NBC10 Boston obtained show the town paid about $38,000 for the private investigation and has also tallied thousands more on legal fees related to the controversy.
Meanwhile, taxpayers have shelled out well over $600,000 for two police chief salaries, as Deputy Chief Michael Ellsworth serves as acting chief in Sellon's absence.
In response to a question about the financial impact on residents, Dumas said no backfilling of positions has taken place during the timeframe Sellon has been on administrative leave.
Sellon's current annual salary is about $196,000 and Ellsworth collects about $197,000, thanks to the pay bump that come with the added responsibilities.
"The only budgetary impact to the taxpayer has been this additional weekly compensation to the deputy chief," Dumas wrote. "Since both salaries have always been historically budgeted for both of their positions, there is no additional financial burden in salaries beyond this $757.98 per week."
Sellon's three-year contract ran from April 2020 through March 2023, but a line in the contract state it renews yearly until a new agreement is reached.
Several Select Board positions are up for grabs in Tuesday's town election in Mansfield.
During a recent forum on community TV, candidates debated how the situation has been handled and whether there has been enough transparency to residents.
"Take ownership of it and make a decision," Joseph Britt said.
"We have to hold the town manager accountable to say, 'When does this end?'" Maureen Doherty added.
When reached for comment by email on Tuesday, Dumas said the two sides entered mediation earlier this year.
"In order to protect the integrity of this confidential process, we will not comment any further," Dumas said.
Select Board Chairman Michael Trowbridge echoed that sentiment.
"At this time, I'm not at liberty to discuss this situation," Trowbridge said.
Sellon has not responded to an NBC10 Boston request for comment about where things stand with his role as the town's police chief.
Ryan Kath can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.