Deputy wounded in shootout says upper management has shown blatant disregard for his well-being

Posted 7 September 2015 at 12:00 am


Since Chief Deputy Drennan stated, “Don’t take my word for it. Ask someone else who was there. Someone that knows the facts,” in his Sept. 1 letter to the editor, I have been bombarded with text messages and phone calls.

I am someone else who was there, someone who knows the facts. I am James DeFilipps, and I was the one who was shot in the line of duty in the early hours of March 21, 2015 in the Town of Clarendon.

I suffered a severe traumatic injury, the extent of which was unknown at that time, and was of serious concern to the ambulance’s on-board medic. As the ambulance was in route to the hospital, (further along than 2 tenths of a mile), the medic told me that my supervisor (Drennan) had ordered the ambulance to return to the scene. The reason was so pictures could be taken of my vest, all the while valuable time was wasted with regards to receiving prompt medical attention I may have needed.

Just about an hour later my wife was notified of the incident, which occurred less than 3 miles from our home. When they did come to our home they came in an unmarked, unrecognizable car which made my wife nervous to even go to the door.
To make it worse, after telling my wife that I had been shot and was taken to Strong Hospital, she was left alone to get her and our 10-month-old son ready to go to the hospital.

Not only was having the ambulance turn around an error in judgment, the mishandling of this incident continued throughout my recovery period. My Worker’s Compensation was cancelled a few days after the incident because the Chief did not complete the necessary paperwork.

On another occasion during my recovery period, I stopped by the office on a Tuesday, only to find a Grand Jury subpoena in my mailbox that was for Thursday – just 2 days away. I never received a phone call or delivery of a letter to notify me of the subpoena, which would be expected. Furthermore, while I was relieved to be acquitted by the Grand Jury, I was disappointed to have been made aware of the decision by reading it on the Orleans Hub.

During this sensitive time for me and my family, we were disgusted that no one in the upper management of the Sheriff’s Office had the thought and consideration to reach out to me personally. It should have not come as a surprise to my family and I.

I was also called during this incident to ask me why I had not gone to an appointment for an evaluation of my mental health, so I could return to work. As you may have guessed, I was never even notified of the appointment. I was then given a number and told to schedule my own.

It is this blatant disregard for me, my co-workers, and our families that is the reason why I believe there needs to be a change in the upper management of the Sheriff’s Office. The time is now.

This truly has been one of the worst incidents of my life and continues to be. I was down and out, recovering and trying to spend much needed time with my family. I don’t think I should have had to worry about all this, which only created extra stress.

I guess if you want to call me disgruntled that is your choice, but this is how I feel. The Sheriff’s Office’s handling of this has only left me more empty and hurt. It has been a lot harder to put my uniform on every night and go into work since this.

The community has been great and Sheriff’s Office could be too, but it is in need of change. This is why I trust and support Randy Bower for our next Sheriff. Join me in voting Randy Bower for Orleans County Sheriff on Thursday, Sept. 10 in the Republican Primary.

Compassion matters.

James DeFilipps