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Warden Dismissed for Asking Bangor Officer to Give Up Gun While Voting 

An election warden in Bangor is facing criticism for asking a uniformed Bangor police officer to surrender his firearm before he could stand in line to vote. Today the warden was dismissed from his job and the police chief defended his officer.Bangor Police Chief Ron Gastia says he found Friday’s incident at the Bangor Civic Center surprising.One of his officers, James Dearing, showed up while on duty and in full uniform, to vote. Election warden Wayne Maller approached the officer and asked him to surrender his firearm. Chief Gastia says his officers are trained to never relinquish their firearms to anyone. “Quite frankly, it would be against company policy for a police officer to be out in the public in uniform without his firearm,” says Chief Gastia.Gastia says officer Dearing took the high road and reacted exactly as he would hope any of his officers would in that situation. “He did not argue with Mr. Maller. He just left the the area.”Bangor police officers are encouraged to vote, whether during a lunch break or if they have a free moment while on duty. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap says the warden went beyond his authority by asking officer Dearing to remove his firearm. “The fact of the matter is that a sworn law enforcement officer not only has the right to carry their firearm, they really have the duty,” says Dunlap. “If they’re on duty, they have to keep their equipment with them at all times. You just never know when an emergency is going to emerge.”City Clerk Patti Dubois says she has spoken with Maller and he’s been relieved of his duties as a warden for the remainder of this election. Chief Gastia says this situation has been a distraction for city employees. “At a very busy time, the day before a major election quite frankly, we didn’t need to have this happen,” said Chief Gastia. “It puts a lot of burden, a lot of extra work, and obviously takes some additional resources to deal with an issue like this.”