Retired deputy backs Bower for sheriff, says Drennan micromanages staff

Posted 31 August 2015 at 12:00 am


We, the voters, have a rare opportunity to choose our next sheriff and not just settle for whoever “the party” tells us is their guy.

Our county has an approximately 2:1 Republican over Democrat voter registration rate. That being the case, pretty much whichever candidate the Republican Party endorses will go on to take that office with many unopposed.

We have very little say in this process. This, along with all of the rules and regulations involved with the board of elections, make it nearly impossible for the average person to compete with “the system.”

Sometimes the party overlooks the better candidate. This necessitates a Primary Election.

I retired from the Sheriff’s Department after working there just over 20 years. I have worked with both candidates: Bower and Drennan.

The Republican Party has endorsed Drennan as their candidate. I feel they have made a grave mistake.

Drennan’s buy line is “experience matters,” implying he is more qualified than Bower. While it is true he has more police experience working the road than Bower, Bower (as a dispatcher) has more experience directing calls to the people who need to handle them.

The Sheriff position is an administrative job. During my career at the Sheriff’s Department, I worked for four sheriffs and six undersheriffs. None of them regularly worked a road shift, taking calls or making arrests while I was there. That is just not what they do.

The sheriff needs to coordinate and lead his men and women to get the job done. Managerial and people skills are needed far more than road experience. These are the areas in which Bower excels. Bower deals with people (some in distress) all day long as a dispatcher.

He also owns and manages his own printing business. He has the tools and ability to get the job done. He also has the confidence and respect of the employees at the department.

It has always been the policy of the two Sheriff’s Department unions to stay out of political elections as the employees still have to work with whoever wins. In an unprecedented move both the union that represents the criminal division and the union that represents the correctional division have endorsed Bower.

All of these people know and work with both candidates. I have to ask myself why would all those men and women risk retaliation from Drennan if he wins? From my experience , the only answer I can come up with is, he is so bad to work for now, it could not get any worse.

It has been my experience (while I worked there) that he has no compassion for his subordinates, and unnecessarily micromanages them. It seems this trend has continued on today. An example of this was recently brought to my attention. It involves the shooting of Deputy DeFilipps on the night of March 21, 2015 – a reality that every deputy faces each time they put their uniform on and hit the streets.

Deputy DeFilipps was shot center mass by a suspect while responding to a call for help. Luckily, he was wearing his ballistic vest. It saved his life that night. After he was loaded aboard the ambulance, he was well en route to the hospital, and without regard for DeFilipps wellbeing, Drennan ordered the ambulance to turn around, and return to the scene in Clarendon.

Reportedly, Drennan did this so he could “take pictures” of the ballistic vest DeFilipps had been wearing and who knows what else. Investigators usually take evidence pictures.

Why was DeFilipps not accompanied in the ambulance by an investigator or even another deputy? And what could possibly be so exigent that it could not wait until after DeFilipps was transported to the hospital to receive the medical care he so badly needed? This mentality, of disregard for the employee, and then not trusting his investigators to properly do their job, is a perfect example why both of the unions have endorsed Bower.

Bower’s choice for undersheriff is Lt. Christopher Bourke, (whom I also worked with for 20 years). The undersheriff runs more of the day-to-day police operations of the department, and fills in for the sheriff in his absence.

Lt. Bourke has worked there longer than Drennan, has more experience, and has earned the respect of his fellow employees. Together, they make a team that will take the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department in the right direction.

I urge everyone to come out and Vote for Randy on both Sept. 10 and Nov. 3.

James W. Halstead
Retired Deputy Sheriff