Outgoing Sheriff speaks with Houlton Rotarians

HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Rotary Club met for its luncheon meeting on Monday Feb. 5. Rotarian Annette Beaton hosted the guest speaker Sheriff Darrell Crandall.

Beaton introduced Crandall with a brief description of his professional  career. In 1985, Crandall joined the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department as a jail officer. After one year, he transferred to rural patrol. He was later assigned to the State Drug Enforcement Unit where he stayed for 20  years advancing to the position of commander.

Crandall has been a K-9 handler as well. In 2014, Crandall was elected sheriff of Aroostook County and has worked at the job for three years. He will be retiring from the department this year after 32 years of service.

Crandall grew up in the jail until the age of nine. His father, Darrell Sr., was the sheriff and the family lived in the front of the building since housing was provided to offset the low salary at the time. Another nine and a half years later Crandall began his career with the Sheriff’s department.

The Sheriff’s Office is the oldest form of law enforcement dating back 1,000. In 1066, “Shires” were appointed to act in each “Reeve.” The words over time were combined to the word sheriff. The present County jail has the capacity for 117 inmates averaging 95 in occupancy.

All inmates are awaiting trial for a sentence of nine months or less. A longer sentence is served at other jails. The jail has 32 full time employees. Operating on a $3.5 million budget, the jail reached 100 percent compliance last year. These ratings are based on many categories from warm food to noise level. Crandall was hired to increase these ratings after an unsatisfactory score a few years ago. Crandall has overseen more than two dozen programs to improve prison life and the lives of the prisoners.

Such programs are residential substance abuse, healthy relationships, life skills, education for a high school equivalency diploma, money management, serve safe and career ready.

Many inmates have never been taught basic life skills like getting up early, making their bed, brushing their teeth, dressing properly for the day, working at a job and retiring to bed after a hard day’s work.

A successful program teaches all of this as well as providing work for trustworthy inmates. Two days of service remove one day of jail time and teach alternative choices to inmates leaving jail. Last year, 8.900 hours were totaled in donated labor. Jobs can be picking up trash along the road in various towns, waxing fire trucks and working on non-profit farms in the area. Crandall sees better behavior in these inmates as a result.

There are nine regional part-time deputy sheriffs who assist in serving papers and the fees tracked show to be yielding a small profit to the department. There are five district courts in the County and two Superior Courts. There are 10 Deputy Sheriffs and they live in communities spaced around the County creating a knowledgeable and proactive department. Seven thousand square miles are covered in the County. There were around eight thousand calls last year. Crandall thinks more calls show more confidence in reporting such crimes as domestic violence. If there is probable cause for domestic violence 100 percent of offenders go to jail for the judge to sort out later.

Rotarian Paul Adams hosted his guest Chief Deputy Sheriff Shawn Gillen, who is one of two candidates that will be looking to fill Crandall’s position this fall.

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