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Gillen sworn in as sheriff

HOULTON, Maine — In a low key ceremony Thursday, former Aroostook County Sheriff Darrell Crandall swore in Shawn Gillen of Blaine as sheriff. Crandall also administered the oath to Craig W. Holder of Mapleton as chief deputy sheriff. 

Gillen has served as acting sheriff since Crandall retired in March to return to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency as its commander.

Gillen, a Democrat, handily defeated Republican challenger Matthew Irwin in the Nov. 6 election to officially become sheriff. He garnered 66.9 percent of the vote, compared to 33.1 percent for Irwin.

“It was a pretty quick ceremony,” Gillen said Friday of the swearing-in event. “I wanted it to be low-key. It was just held in the county commissioners office with friends and family.”

Pastor Wayne Roberston, chaplain of the sheriff’s office, held the Bible, as the oaths were administered.

Gillen said that his goals looking forward will be to largely focus on a strategy of maintaining what other sheriffs before him have accomplished already while also building upon those accomplishments.

“We are going to look at improving areas within our facility where we can” he said. “At the same time, I would like to see a new jail one day. We are working in a very old jail.”

The Aroostook County Jail, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in Houlton in 1859. It was designed by Gridley J. F. Bryant and was the county’s first purpose-built court facility.

“We do well with what we have with this jail, but at the same time, it is an old facility,” said Gillen. “I think that it is wearing out.”

Gillen also said he wants to focus on doing more for inmates facing mental health challenges.

“People with mental health challenges do not belong in our jail,” he said. “We need medical assisted treatment. There has got to be more help available to assist them. We have to come up with a better way to assist them. Right now, we comply with state standards, but there has got to be more.”

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