PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Presque Isle Police Chief Matt Irwin has announced that he is running for the position of Aroostook County Sheriff.
In late January, Sheriff Darrell Crandall stated that he will be retiring after three years in that position and 32 years of service with the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Sheriff Shawn Gillen announced his candidacy for sheriff soon afterward.
Irwin’s career in law enforcement has spanned almost 34 years and has included service in patrol, narcotics, criminal investigations, internal affairs, administrative and operational duties and corrections. He served in the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Florida beginning in 1984 and spent 27 years there before assuming the position of Presque Isle police chief in 2011.
“I bring a wide variety of experience to the field, including supervisory roles. I became a supervisor in 1999 and a manager in 2004,” Irwin said. “From a County standpoint, I understand the problems being faced by the different police departments and I’d like to ease that burden in each of our communities.”
Having an extensive career in law enforcement has helped Irwin understand the challenges that police departments across Aroostook County face in terms of budgeting, officer recruitment and training and prisoner transportation.
“Currently, when a police department has an officer position open, more often than not they have to chase people down and convince them that their department is better than the other,” Irwin said. “A certain level of competition is healthy, but I think there’s room for collaboration within police departments to better maximize the search.”
He also thinks that different city and town police departments can work together to provide more effective trainings for new officers.
“The academy gives officers a good baseline and all part-time officers have to take a 200-hour course, but at the end of the day it’s the experience you get in the field that really improves how you interact with the public and handle cases,” Irwin said.
One of the biggest challenges Irwin said all police departments face are cases when arrested criminals require hospital stays due to their psychological state or physical injuries and an officer has to stand guard outside their hospital room.
Irwin noted that in a past situation one of his officers had to be at a local hospital while a prisoner was admitted for seven days.
“When you have someone there for that long, that’s one less police officer in the field. There might be opportunities to use corrections officers,” Irwin said.
Irwin is running as a Republican and Gillen as a Democrat. The field also includes Republican Michael Montpetit of Washburn.