SOUTH PARIS (NEWS CENTER Maine) – Oxford County’s new interim sheriff took the oath of office Tuesday morning at the Commissioner’s building in South Paris.
Jim Theriault replaces Wayne Gallant, who resigned in December amid sexual harassment allegations and an investigation by the county commissioners.
Theriault brings 42 years of law enforcement experience to the title, including 20 years as chief of the Mexico Police Department. He retired in 2014. He ran for Oxford County Sheriff in 2002, but lost.
“I am very thankful and fortunate for the opportunity to serve as Sheriff for the county of Oxford,” Theriault said. “I know this is going to be a challenging position, but I look forward to the opportunity I’ve been afforded and will work diligently in restoring faith in the community and rebuilding morale within this department.”
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Theriault said he needed to get caught up on some items and asked for patience from the citizens of Oxford County and the media. He said he would not answer questions related to Gallant, the investigation, or allegations against the former sheriff.
”I just want to bring back some pride and stability to the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department,” said Sheriff Theriault. ”I understand that need for change, and hopefully I can bring that change.”
Theriault came out of retirement for the position.
“I have a lot of love for law enforcement and when this opportunity came up, I put my name in the hat and I was very fortunate to be chosen by the Governor,” said Theriault. “Hopefully I can do this position the justice it deserves and I want to get everyone’s confidence back in the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department.”
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Mexico Chief Roy Hodsdon took over for Theriault after he retired, and worked with him for 15 years. He said his experience running, and expanding it from a four-officer team, to a five-officer team, and securing new physical space for the department.
”It's different being a small agency. Small budgets, finding grants, finding money -- that's what he passed on to me: you have to look for it and work hard to get it," said Chief Hodsdon. ”He’s going to make his own journey for the sheriff’s department and he’s going to get the respect back that they deserve."
Theriault said he did not think earning that respect back would be a difficult task, but said it will be a long one. He said he plans to run for Sheriff in the June primaries.
This story will be updated.