Oxford County Commissioners Request Removal of Sheriff Christopher Wainwright for Misconduct

Oxford County commissioners request Maine governor to remove sheriff over misconduct allegations, including improper gun disposal and uncertified officers; case could set precedent for handling sheriff misconduct.

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Oxford County Commissioners Request Removal of Sheriff Christopher Wainwright for Misconduct

Oxford County Commissioners Request Removal of Sheriff Christopher Wainwright for Misconduct

The Oxford County commissioners have requested that Maine Governor Janet Mills remove Sheriff Christopher Wainwright from office due to allegations of misconduct. The key issues include Wainwright improperly disposing of firearms from the evidence room, allowing uncertified school resource officers to carry guns, and attempting to influence a deputy to reduce a traffic citation for an acquaintance.

Wainwright admitted to trading in guns from the sheriff's department's evidence locker without keeping proper records in 2021. He did not follow proper procedures such as trying to contact the original owners or holding a public auction. Additionally, two uncertified law enforcement officers served as school resource officers and carried guns under Wainwright's tenure, which is a violation of the law, even though the issue was eventually resolved.

A former Supreme Judicial Court Justice, Donald Alexander, presided over two days of hearings on the matter. Both sides made closing arguments, with the county attorney stating that Wainwright's removal is necessary for the county government to function, while Wainwright's attorney said he carried out his duties to the best of his ability. Wainwright has acknowledged making some mistakes but defended his actions, stating he believed he had the authority to sell the guns and was not involved in the hiring of the uncertified school resource officers.

Why this matters: This case marks the first time a governor has been asked to remove a sheriff in Maine since 1926. The outcome could set a precedent for how misconduct allegations against elected sheriffs are handled in the state.

Justice Alexander will make a recommendation to Governor Mills, who has the final decision on whether to remove Sheriff Wainwright from office. A final recommendation is expected by Monday, April 29, 2024. The Oxford County commissioners had previously given Wainwright a chance to improve, but ultimately decided to forward the complaints to the governor for a final decision after holding administrative hearings on the allegations of misconduct.

Key Takeaways

  • Oxford County commissioners request removal of Sheriff Wainwright for misconduct.
  • Wainwright admitted to improperly disposing of firearms from evidence locker.
  • Uncertified school resource officers carried guns under Wainwright's tenure.
  • Hearing held, with recommendation to Maine Governor Mills on Wainwright's removal.
  • First time a Maine governor has been asked to remove a sheriff since 1926.