Reshuffle, new hires at
Oxford County Sheriff's Office

by Peter McGuire, Staff Writer Sun Journal Oct. 4, 2013

PARIS — The Oxford County Sheriff's Office has hired new deputies and revamped its civil service division in an effort to expand its public safety coverage in the county. 

At their meeting Monday, the Oxford County commissioners approved hiring Richard Murray, formerly of the Fryeburg Police Department, as a new full-time deputy covering southern Oxford County. A utility deputy moved into a full-time position in the department last month.

According to Sheriff Wayne Gallant, the two positions were opened after a shuffling of department personnel in the past year. 

In March, commissioners approved the transfer of Cpl. Chancey Libby to a full-time drug crime investigator under the auspices of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. The transfer came at the urging of municipal police chiefs, who warned of surging rates of drug-related crimes across the county. 

In addition, the Sheriff's Office recently changed its approach to its civil division, replacing civilians with uniformed officers. 

Deputies in the civil division serve legal paperwork related to lawsuits, divorce proceedings, foreclosure and other court matters. 

For years, the task was preformed by non-uniformed civilians working for the Sheriff's Office. Since last month, however, two full-time deputies have taken over the job. 

"The (state) statue says the sheriff and his deputies serve papers so we decided to make it more professional," Gallant said.

From Gallant's perspective, having two full-time uniformed officers on also provides additional law enforcement manpower in Oxford County. 

Although primarily tasked with serving paperwork, the deputies will travel in their own cruisers and will be able to respond to emergencies or calls that come in.

"They're still regular deputies," Gallant said. "It gives us more visibility in the county."

Officers from the civil division already have been able to respond as backup on at least two occasions because they were near the call serving paperwork, Gallant said. The first officer to arrive on the scene of a fatal car accident in Canton on Sept. 5 was a deputy from the civil division, he noted. 

"One of the biggest deterrents in crimes anywhere is visibility," Gallant said. "I know if you're standing in front of a store with a rock in your hand and I'm parked across the street in my cruiser, I bet you won't break the window."

The civil service division is funded through the fees charged for each document served. Oxford County serves about 3,200 papers a year, according to County Administrator Scott Cole. 

A revised service fee has also been part of the revamp. The county now charges a $50 fee per service, rather than the varied fees it had prior to this fall.

"We believe we can cover the cost without gouging the citizenry," Cole said.