2014-06-06 / Community

Three campaign for sheriff’s office

Following an announcement by Sheriff Maurice Ouellette that he is not seeking reelection, three candidates are seeking the Democratic nod in the primary race for the office of sheriff at the polls June 10. No one is running for the Republicans.

William King Jr.

Saco
60

Law enforcement experience/ background: officer/sergeant, Portland Police Department; security officer, Central Intelligence Agency; special agent, Drug Enforcement Administration; assistant director, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency; special agent and special agent-in-charge, Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General; chief deputy, York County Sheriff’s Office (current employment)

There are three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination and no Republicans, all but ensuring the next sheriff of York County will be a Democrat. What makes you different from your opponents and why should you be elected?

The differences between the candidates in this race are glaring. Some of the qualifications that set me apart from my opponents are:

I have a master’s degree in management and an undergraduate degree in criminal justice. I also teach courses at Husson College and local community colleges. A sheriff must be well-versed in contemporary policing and corrections issues. Clearly, my work at the sheriff’s office the past four years has shown that my educational background and experience has prepared me well for this responsibility.

I’ve traveled and worked nationally and internationally, and have seen what works and what doesn’t. I believe that is a critical asset. For example, if a volunteer reserve program can work in New York City, why can’t it work here?

I’ve used my federal experience in tackling local policing challenges. When a local woman was scammed by Jamaican con artists and federal authorities refused to prosecute the offenders, we changed our focus to an educational one. I enlisted the assistance of FairPoint Communications and we established a website (www.bewareof876.com) to shed light on the matter.

Our publicity campaign resulted in stricter laws against scamming in Jamaica. Today, every federal law enforcement agency has established a 24- hour hot line to report scamming.

I ask the voters to review the three campaigns. My campaign has remained positive. All in all, I’ve had a stellar local, state, county and federal career.

Lastly, I have been acting sheriff; I know the issues facing the office. For example, the state has recently engaged in a discussion to “take over” our county jails. I believe, along with many other citizens, that our jail should be locally controlled. York County citizens should elect somebody with the background, motivation and knowledge to successfully stop this proposed takeover.

The number of mentally ill people being incarcerated in York County and other jails has been an issue for a long time. How, if anything, would you propose to address this problem, if you perceive it as a problem?

If an offender is sentenced to two consecutive sentences, he or she may be housed at our facility for 18 months. That is not a lot of time to have intensive mental health therapy. Nevertheless, across the nation, individuals with severe mental illness are three times more likely to be incarcerated in a correctional setting rather than in a mental health facility.

This is a national corrections problem and I will continue to work with the Maine Sheriff’s Association to address this challenge. There is no easy fix because, unfortunately, there is no alternative for these offenders, and sheriffs are left to incarcerate these individuals with mental health issues from the rest of society.

Is the county jail system in Maine working?

Yes, it is.

There are four goals of incarceration: rehabilitation, punishment, deterrence and retribution. In York County, we carefully screen each offender through our classification system to ensure we understand which goal is sought.

It is clear that most short term offenders are placed in jail for rehabilitation purposes. Consequently, we need active programs to return offenders to our communities as productive members.

How would you make it more efficient and cost-effective?

I would contact the federal Bureau of Prisons and volunteer to house federal offenders. The U.S. Government pays about $134 per night to incarcerate a federal offender. The sheriff’s office has an entire pod available with 38 beds that is closed due to staffing and budget issues.

The jail gardening program will be expanded so inmates grow vegetables and fruit to be consumed at the jail. York County has the best farms in Maine. I will coordinate with a local farmer to help set up a farming program.

Are there any changes in programs you would initiate to improve the York County Jail and the York County Sheriff’s Office?

I have numerous changes I plan to implement, and I will share two programs:

To augment our police coverage, I would work toward instituting a volunteer reserve program. I would also work with the NECU (New England Corrections Union) and the CPA (County Patrol Association) toward an agreement to utilize corrections officers who have passed the Law Enforcement Pre-Service Program to work as paid part-time deputies.

I will continue to identify grant opportunities and encourage more towns to enter into contracts with the sheriff’s office. Contracts provide more opportunities to implement communitypolicing practices.

I would rework the call share agreement with the Maine State Police, so the sheriff’s office provides primary coverage in every community. The sheriff’s office cannot provide the coverage without the assistance of the Maine State Police, but the way the service is delivered needs to be altered.

To alleviate the staffing crisis, I will immediately implement a reserve corrections officer program focused upon recruiting teachers, who can supplement the corrections force.

I would like to form a “success committee” who will work with an inmate to assemble an “action plan” upon release.

In York County we have several largescale employers. I would contact each company and ascertain what training we could launch at the jail that would make an offender a candidate for employment upon release.

Dana Paul Lajoie

Berwick
58

Experience: 28 years as chief of police, three of which were in Berwick. Presently chief in South Berwick.

There are three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination and no Republicans, all but ensuring the next sheriff of York County will be a Democrat. What makes you different from your opponents and why should you be elected?

I still have a burning passion for service and for bringing forth positive change through policing. I believe that my years of experience in Southern Maine make me extremely qualified to lead the professional men and women of the sheriff’s department.

I hope to further foster professional partnerships with our counterparts on the municipal, state and federal level. Criminals aren’t restricted by town lines or state boundaries, and it is equally important that law enforcement officers are given the tools, equipment and authority to pursue those law violators. I also understand how to, and have been successful in managing within the strict confines of a budget. During my time as police chief I have proactively sought grant funding to augment budgetary and equipment needs.

The York County Sheriff’s Department has the unique challenge of rural policing. This entails covering numerous square miles and dozens of individual towns with limited resources. Datadriven policing, meaning studying crime types and locations, is key to determining where to place your resources in order to help deter future crimes.

I hold an associate degree in law enforcement and graduated from Babson College Command Training program. I hold the basic, intermediate, advanced and executive certificate through the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

In addition, I regularly attend ongoing certification courses and in service training to stay abreast of change. I am a member of the national, international and Maine Chiefs of police and an active member of the district one Maine Chiefs Council.

I was selected by past governors to sit on a task force to study consolidating, along with several local boards studying the feasibility of combined shared services. In addition, I co-chaired the York County Jail Advisory Board with the honorable Joe Hanslip.

We presently occupy that facility today. I am a lifelong resident of York County and currently live in Berwick with my wife of 37 years, Elaine. We have two grown children who also residents of York County, Jennifer and Jamie.

What makes me different is I am an open door manager at all levels and remove the dissent among the staff. The morale within, along with turnover, is at an alltime high. Three staffing emergencies within the past are unreasonable and will change through my professional leadership. Through communication at all levels of government, I will work with the county commissioner, manager, state police and county employees. I will immediately remove the distrust. Then I will work within the confines of a budget and stop blaming others for the present failures within.

Most importantly, I will bring integrity and honor to the citizens of York County.

The number of mentally ill people being incarcerated in York I County and other jails has been an issue for a long time. How, if anything, would you propose to address this problem, if you perceive it as a problem?

A disproportionate number of individuals at the jail suffer from some sort of mental illness. The County jail generally receives people in crisis and must work to stabilize them. Which is one of our primary concerns. I think we should focus on brining some new programming for substance abuse counseling.

We should focus on evidence-based practices that truly reduce recidivism and actually treat the inmates. Mental illness is most definitely an issue for jails. The issues must be addressed not just by administrators, but by society. As a whole the jails are the largest mental health service provider in Maine and must improve with outreach and service providers. We cannot do anything without making it our top priority.

Is the county jail system in Maine working? How would you make it more efficient and cost-effective?

I believe it does work in Maine and must be improved upon by revamping the present staffing levels from the top down. Presently York County is top heavy and must address reallocations of staff to improve efficiency. If we keep jails managed at the county level, local management with professional leadership can manage budgets at less cost per capita.

It is difficult to say how I could make the jail more efficient as I haven’t managed it yet. What I can tell you is that I am an experienced administrator who understands how to analyze budgets and review programs for overall effectiveness.

Are there any changes in programs you would initiate to improve the York County Jail and the York County Sheriff’s Office?

I would seek to improve the relationships with the unions, other county departments and other law enforcement agencies. It is easy to sit back and say we need more people. However, the reality is, everything takes money. Relationships and partnerships are key to running any government agency in today’s world, especially when you operate a rural patrol program and a county jail.

Paul Main

Alfred

Experience/education: Graduated from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy near the top of the class after joining the York County Sheriff’s Department. Taught at the National Search and Rescue Academy and the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

The number of mentally ill people being incarcerated in York County and other jails has been an issue for a long time. How, if anything, would you propose to address this problem, if you perceive it as a problem?

Currently, Maine’s county jails provide approximately 70 percent of all mental hearth services in the state.

It is sad that funding of services for the mentally ill has been underfunded for several years. I have openly pledged to work with NAMI (National Alliance of Mentally Ill in Maine) to find other solutions to the problem. I understand that in the absence of proper medication, counseling and plan of treatment, some folks make bad judgments and end up in the criminal justice system.

While working with NAMI, I would like to keep the mentally ill from the mainstream inmate population to protect against victimization. It is very clear that Maine is in need of more beds for the mentally ill. It is all too sad that they find their way into the county jails.

Is the county jail system in Maine working? How would you make it more efficient and cost-effective?

The county jail system has its problems. The state does not always pay their share in a timely fashion. That said, I believe that county sheriff’s, DOC (Maine Department of Corrections) and the county delegation need to sit at the same table and develop a firm plan that can be introduced in the Statehouse that will ensure DOC payments on a regular basis. County commissions do not want to go the way of deficit spending. When DOC is late on their payments it causes problems for the counties. A payment schedule must be legislated for the county jail system to work.

The York County jail has been under Emergency Declaration three times in the past year. This means that the union contract can be circumvented. Corrections officers have been ordered to work as much as 80 hour weeks.

The tab is approximately $23,000 a week in overtime. This administration has seen over 100 employees leave the correction division in the last year. The administration points to people leaving for other employment opportunities and the DOC money. I believe that the salary package in approximately $17/hour with benies. That’s equal to other jails in the state. They are still 20-plus positions short in the jail.

In this economy, people are seeking jobs and the jail is seeing what I believe to be an unreasonable turnover rate. Morale is the big issue within the jail. Building the correction staff back to the right numbers will put a stop to the overtime and improve the moral.

Are there any changes in programs you would initiate to improve the York County Jail and the York County Sheriff’s Office?

Change would include ending the closed-door policy of the administration, and the command staff working along correction staff to fill the building gap while recruitment efforts are ongoing. Establishing work details for the inmates to obtain vocational skills and re-establish the GED program. Partner with business to provide vocational training and job opportunities for released inmates. The target is to provide more tools for the job market and reduce the return rate of inmates.

Activate the new kitchen that has not been used. Staffing a cook with inmates in the kitchen for vocational training. Purchase all foods and supplies locally, thus supporting the local economy.

Stop contacting medical services outside the county. Support the local economy.

A county garden planted, maintained and harvested by inmates would help provide food for inmates, with a public sale of produce to offset seed cost.

Establish a reserve corrections program to save money with open shifts. Continue to build the contract deputy program. Work to find common ground with the several communities that are paying county tax while they maintain their own police departments.

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