Drennan responds to allegations of micromanaging and ambulance interference

Posted 1 September 2015 at 12:00 am


When I entered the campaign for Sheriff I had no intentions of responding to political rhetoric or getting into debates with anyone. My goal from the outset was to take the “high road” and run a campaign based solely on my qualifications. I work with facts not rumors, gossip, assumptions or speculations. Now I feel the need to respond to a personal attack on my character.

I have been using the slogan “EXPERIENCE MATTERS” from the beginning. The experience I refer to is NOT a number. I choose to get involved in cases and training. That is not micromanagement. That is called caring, passion and compassion for all the people of the community I have chosen to serve and protect. That is where my experience has come from.

Experience as defined by Merriam-Webster: practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity.

During my career at the department, particularly in my role for years as an investigator and now years as the chief deputy, I have observed and participated in some of the most horrific, gruesome and despicable cases imaginable. I have used my training, self-critique or input from others to improve in my profession on a daily basis. There is nobody at the Sheriff’s Office that has the wide range of experience that I have.

I regularly use this experience and training in the day-to-day operation of the Sheriff’s Office. I have drawn from my experience during major incidents. During one particular incident a deputy was hurt and was loaded into an ambulance where they were preparing to transport him to a hospital.

I arrived on scene and was briefed by law enforcement and medical personnel as we walked towards the ambulance. I had asked a deputy to retrieve the injured deputy’s vest from his patrol vehicle as we were walking. Only a few feet away, I was about to enter the ambulance when it pulled away from the scene.

The ambulance was ultimately notified via fire radio that I wanted to see the deputy and stopped less than two tenths of a mile away. Before I could get down the street to the ambulance it turned around and came back to me.

I entered the ambulance with the deputy’s vest in hand to take a photograph of the vest and the point of impact to send with the deputy so medical personnel at the hospital could see the ballistic style of vest and location of impact on the vest.

I then assured the deputy that a coworker would be following him to the hospital and “we” as a department and the brotherhood of first responders on scene would be there for him throughout this tragic incident.

I then assured him that a member of the Sheriff’s Office would be notifying his family and making sure that they were safely with him ASAP. I gave him a hug, told him not to worry about anything other than getting better and exited the ambulance so they could continue their transport to the hospital. At no time did I stand in the way of any medical personnel from doing their job.

I had the injured deputy’s physical and mental wellbeing at the forefront of my mind as well as all other personnel that were involved in the incident. I had hundreds if not thousands of things going through my head during that incident. I had to direct personnel into numerous different directions to cover a variety of different tasks to make sure that no stone was left unturned.

That investigation involved several agencies, multiple search warrants and numerous pieces of evidence, hundreds of photographs. Various personnel traveled to several counties and worked hundreds of man hours over several weeks.

I secured a team of highly trained peers from the New York State Police to come to our department and hold a stress debriefing for all those involved. I wanted to make sure we as an administration did everything we could for all parties involved.

For that deputy and all those involved “we” needed to make sure that a complete and thorough investigation was conducted. Rest assured that was a solid investigation conducted by numerous law enforcement agencies and first responders.

An individual can do many things for any particular reason but they need not question my intentions when it comes to the physical or mental welfare of any employee at the sheriff’s office. No one needs to speculate or assume what was going through my head during that incident. Ask me and I will tell you what I can in accordance with the law and departmental policies.

I will tell you why I did what I did based on my training and past experience. Those are the facts from someone that was there from the early stages of that incident to the end. I put my heart, soul and even a few tears into that investigation as I have done for many investigations throughout my career. Don’t take my word for it. Ask someone else that was there. Someone that knows the facts.

Tom Drennan
Chief Deputy of Orleans County Sheriff’s Office