Vote of Support for Patrick Fleming 

(AP) Patrick Fleming, who heads the Maine State Police liquor licensing, gaming and weapons unit, won a strong vote of legislative support this afternoon to become the state police chief.

Fleming, a 23-year state police veteran who holds the rank of lieutenant, won an eleven to one vote of support from the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. The committee’s strong recommendation heightens Fleming’s chances of being confirmed by the Senate.

Fleming spoke of strengths and weaknesses in the state police. He says the educational level of state police is rising. But Fleming said the agency lacks a sufficient number of troopers to patrol the highways, especially in rural areas where more Mainers are now living.

The lone vote against Fleming’s confirmation was by Representative Richard Sykes. The Republican from Harrison said it was not clear whether Fleming was the top choice of Public Safety Commissioner Anne Jordan. Questioned by Sykes, Jordan said Fleming is qualified for the post.

Sykes says the final choice has all of the appearances of a political appointment by the governor of his former bodyguard. Several groups, including the Maine State Troopers Association, the state Office of Substance Abuse and the Kennebec County sheriff, gave Fleming their strong endorsements.

Fleming, of Fairfield, was the sergeant in charge of executive protection, which provides security for the governor and other top officials.

If confirmed, he will succeed Craig Poulin.