LEWISTON — Oxford County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Lowe late Thursday afternoon sent the Sun Journal an email with a statement addressed to commissioners asking them to rescind their decision to send a request to the governor to remove Sheriff Christopher Wainwright from office and saying some patrol deputies fully support him.

The statement is a complete reversal of the police union’s position last year when it urged commissioners to begin the process to remove the sheriff. In his email, Lowe noted the statement expressed the thoughts and opinions of some of the members within the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, noting that it was signed.

There were no signatures.

Asked how many deputies had signed, Lowe wrote in an email, “We will be obtaining signatures tomorrow. I cannot say exactly how many we will have at this point but wanted to get this in front of you ASAP. We have several, just don’t have an exact count at this point.”

The statement is addressed to Commissioners David Duguay, Steven Merrill and Tim Turner and to the “citizens of Oxford County.” It starts, “We feel we must address the public in the interest of transparency with our thoughts and beliefs of the agency that is sworn to protect you.”


According to the statement, the deputies who support Wainwright can no longer “sit in silence and watch how elected officials in the county administration destroy and discredit our beloved agency.”

Lowe went into detail about the large geographic area deputies patrol and how that impacts response time, and also how starved officers are for resources and compensation. He asserts that, despite being approached several times to address these issues, the commissioners have “refused to listen, negotiate, or try to assist us with improving our agency.”

In the past four months, Lowe writes, “Deputies have been faced with numerous life or death situations, to include two officer-involved shootings.” Deputies also responded to the Oct. 25 mass shooting in Lewiston, hardships they face willingly “to protect our citizens, even if it means we are injured, or killed, in the process.”

On Jan. 16, commissioners voted to draft a complaint and send a letter to Gov. Janet Mills to remove Wainwright from his elected office. The complaint and letter will be formalized at a meeting scheduled Feb. 7, and is expected to be sent to the governor. (See accompanying story.)

In the statement, Lowe noted recent news coverage of complaints about Wainwright and how commissioners have responded, criticizing those decisions “made by officials who were never elected by you, the people, to lead” the sheriff’s office.

“We want to make it known that we, the deputies for the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, signed in support of this document and stand behind our sheriff. We also have confidence in his ability to lead and have confidence in his ability to lead our agency to its full potential.”


Last May, when commissioners rebuked Wainwright for asking one of his deputies to go easy on a woman who had received a traffic citation, the union representing employees in the Sheriff’s Office had urged the commissioners to start the termination process.

Traci St. Clair, business agent with the Teamsters Union Local 340, submitted a letter on behalf of a majority of those employees, saying the department has been in turmoil for five years due to “poor management and the lack of leadership.”

“We respectfully ask that you request Governor Janet Mills to relieve him of his duties,” the union said in a statement. “Oxford County has suffered another black eye and our reputation has taken a major blow. People have lost any faith they had in the Sheriff.”

The statement Lowe sent Thursday also asks commissioners to rescind their decision to seek Wainwright’s removal “who is an elected official through a lawful vote of the people, by the people. We should not allow our County Commissioners to speak on behalf of this entire community and their agency.”

If what Lowe termed “simple, yet reasonable requests” for commissioners to rescind their decision and more fully support deputies are not met, “we, as servants of the people, but as well as citizens ourselves, will have no choice but to protest as our right, given to us by the same document we swear to protect.”

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