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Maine lawmakers call for embattled Capitol Police Chief to be placed on administrative leave

Gov. Janet Mills called for a review of Chief Russell Gauvin Friday, but dozens of state lawmakers are demanding more.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Editor's Note: The video above aired on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. 

At least 60 state lawmakers are calling for Capitol Police Chief Russell Gauvin to be placed on administrative leave immediately pending an investigation into controversial social media posts.

Democratic House Speaker Ryan Fecteau and Senate President Troy Jackson both signed the letter to Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck Monday. 

"Those who commit to public service are held to a higher standard for public comments," the letter read. 

Gov. Janet Mills called for a review of Gauvin after a report Friday in the Portland-based alternative news publication Mainer shared months of Gauvin's politically-charged social media posts.

The report showed screenshots of posts that have since been deleted, including one that questioned the usefulness of wearing masks to combat the spread of COVID-19. Another suggested law enforcement officers eligible for retirement might do so after President-elect Joe Biden takes office. 

Credit: Mainer

RELATED: Mills requests investigation after chief of Capitol Police apologizes for social media posts

Gauvin later issued an apology calling the posts he shared "inconsistent' with his professional responsibilities. 

"I certainly never intended for my social media account to ever bring my commitment to fair and professional law enforcement into question," he said in a statement. 

This comes as there is heightened security at the capitol building and surrounding grounds due to possible threats of violence in the days leading up to Biden's inauguration.

State lawmakers criticized Gauvin's response in their letter.

"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," they wrote.

The Governor's Office and Commissioner Sauschuck did not immediately return NEWS CENTER Maine's request for comment. 

This story will be updated.