Even before Androscoggin County voters elected Eric Samson to be the new sheriff, Samson’s choice for his chief deputy was retired longtime detective William Gagne. Before Samson takes his oath of office at the end of December — and Gagne takes on his new position — the Sun Journal wanted to learn more about the quiet detective’s transformation from retiree to law enforcement administrator.
Name: William Gagne
Single, relationship or married? Happily married
Children? Two sons, ages 15 and 11.
You ended your 23-year career with the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s office almost a year ago, retiring as a detective. Did you think you’d be returning? No. When I took my last ride home on Dec. 31, 2013, I thought my days working in law enforcement were done, and I was ready to start a new chapter in my life.
What did you do after you retired? I became self-employed in the construction and wood-working field. It was always a hobby of mine, but after seven months of doing it full time, I realized that what was once a fun hobby wasn’t as much fun as a full-time job.
When Sheriff-elect Eric Samson asked you if you would be interested in the role of chief deputy, what was your immediate reaction? I was honored and humbled to be asked to be Eric’s chief deputy. I have always been interested in being in a management role, and seriously considered running for sheriff myself, but for several reasons I decided not to pursue it. I am just as happy being the chief deputy and still fulfilling my goal of being in administration.
You’ve worked with lots of previous chief deputies. Sheriff Guy Desjardins and Sheriff-elect Eric Samson both served in that role. What kind of chief will you be? I want to be an effective communicator, with an approachable, open-door policy, and involved in the day-to-day activities of the agency. My intention is to try and take the best traits of all the past chief deputies in developing my own management style. My biggest role model as chief deputy has always been my father, Andre Gagne, who served as the chief deputy under sheriffs Lionel Cote and Ronald Gagnon. I am honored to now be serving in the same position that my father served in prior to his retirement.
Since the job of detective is such a staple of fiction, particularly on TV, what are some of the misconceptions of the job? The major misconception is that the majority of crimes are not solved in an hour like they are on television. Also, people are not always truthful. Suspects rarely confess to the crime and never confess on the stand like they do on “Law and Order,” “NCIS” or “CSI.” TV shows do not show the hours of report writing we have to do to document what happened to prepare our cases for court. I guess watching a detective type for the duration of a show would make for boring TV!
As a detective, you rarely wore a uniform. As the chief deputy, will you be in street clothes or a uniform? I will be wearing a uniform unless I am attending court or another function where wearing a shirt and tie is more appropriate or required.
Though you’ve worked on many high-profile investigations, you have rarely been quoted in the newspaper. How will you adjust to a more public role? The archives of newspaper articles and newscasts may not have many direct quotes from me, but I’ve had many, many conversations with various media outlets throughout my career. With high-profile cases, it can be difficult for a detective or patrol deputy to field those calls, as it can take large amounts of time away from the timely work we need to complete. As the chief deputy, I will be the spokesperson for the agency and a direct go-to person for the media. This role is important as it will allow the detectives and deputies to focus on what they need to get done.
What are your goals for serving as the chief deputy? I intend to spend time in each division within the agency to keep in touch with the employees so I know what is going on. I want to expand the agency’s communications with the communities and citizens we serve so they have a better idea of what our agency is doing. I also intend to complete a needs assessment and a gap analysis of the agency. This will help determine what we are doing well and how we can improve, as there is always room for improvement. This includes policies and procedures as well as the various job descriptions. And I plan to go on the road at times to support the deputies, to stay connected to their day-to-day activities and the communities, as well as maintain my law enforcement skills.